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Healthy Habits for the New Year, and How to Achieve Them

January 02, 2017

Healthy Habits for the New Year, and How to Achieve Them

 

With December ending, you may be reflecting on 2016 and looking forward to a fresh, healthy start in 2017.  But, change can be hard, especially when trying to reverse years of bad habits.  Healthy changes you can make – as well as tips for achieving these goals – are discussed here.

Sleep More
Perhaps the number one habit everyone could be better about is sleep.  According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans averaged just 6.8 hours of sleep per night, with 7 – 9 hours being the recommended range.  More sleep equates to less stress, better athletic performance, and a smaller waistline; however, it is unrealistic for most people to suddenly go to bed 1 – 2 hours earlier.  Instead, look to the long term.  Make small, incremental changes over the course of the year.  For instance, each month aim to go to bed just 5 minutes earlier than previously.

Hydrate Better
Another area where most people could improve is in their hydration.  Adequate hydration is important for numerous reasons, from maintaining healthy muscles and joints to keeping all of the body’s systems working properly.  People who are well hydrated are more alert, suffer from fewer allergy or asthma problems, and have better looking skin.  How can you improve your hydration?  Simple changes to your routine, such as carrying a reusable water bottle throughout the day or using a hydration pack while you run, can make a big difference. 

Give Back
Did you know that one of the best things you can do for your health and happiness is to help others?  Studies have shown that people who volunteer live longer, their perception of time is altered, and happiness is improved.  Volunteering and giving back to the community can take on many forms.  For instance, you can donate old running shoes to be repurposed at your local running store.  Once a month you can volunteer to walk or run a shelter dog.  You can serve as a mentor to an organization such as Girls on the Run or Back on My Feet.  Even just one hour per month can make a difference in both your life and the community. 

Practice Gratitude
In our busy, stressful, chaotic world it can become easy to focus on the negative instead of the positive.  Practicing gratitude (i.e. consciously being thankful throughout the day) has a number of benefits, including increased happiness, better relationships, improved self-esteem, deeper sleep, and greater mental fortitude.  Unsure where to start?  Simply keeping a daily gratitude list is a fantastic way to get into the habit of being grateful. 

Exercise Meaningfully
One of the top New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight by exercising more.  However, thinking of exercise in such a narrow scope can be detrimental to your goals.  Instead, view exercise as something more meaningful, such as a way to increase your health and happiness, as opposed to the emotional rollercoaster that weight loss entails. 





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