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5 Resolutions for a Healthier New Year

Welcome to 2010. It’s a brand new year filled with 365 days of great promise. But for many, the New Year can also bring about new stress. Many of us make the mistake of creating a huge list of resolutions that we want to accomplish, but ultimately the challenge of meeting those goals becomes overwhelming and we give up.

Dr. Backs recommends that you keep it simple. Make resolutions that all lead to one simple goal for the year ahead -- “living a healthy lifestyle”. Though healthy living, you will discover new opportunities to achieve many of the things you want in life. And with that in mind, I offer the following five resolutions designed to enhance your life and health this year.
Check out your health. Start the year off with an annual physical, no matter how healthy you think you are. It’s a great time to talk with your medical professional about fitness goals, medications you may be taking, steps you can take to minimize seasonal illness, and also conduct annual screenings for a variety of issues based upon your age, sex, and family history.

Stretch daily. Before you venture out for the day, take time to warm up your muscles. Starting the day by stretching can help prevent injuries and increase performance. Begin with gradual mobility exercises for all the joints: rotate your wrists, bend your arms and roll your shoulders. This will allow the body's natural lubrication (synovial fluid) to protect the surface of your bones at these joints. Then move into your stretching exercises. Remember to hold the stretch until you feel the muscle loosen off, then repeat for a further 15 seconds. You may feel some slight discomfort when stretching, but always stop your stretch immediately if you feel any severe pain.

Keep moving. In mid-winter, many of us tend to be less active. This can lead to a variety of problems as the year progresses, ranging from increased stress to weight gain. But you don’t need a gym membership to stay fit. Adding more movement to your day, even in small ways, can help you stay healthy. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a couple of blocks away from your destination and walk the extra distance. When it’s too cold to venture out, do some calisthenics, or even just dance to a favorite song at home. But before starting any new fitness routine, especially if you have not exercised in a while, discuss it with your doctor while getting that physical.

Get a good night’s sleep. A restful night’s sleep is vital to a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you give sleep time the same priority you give to other activities during the day. Proper diet is important for ensuring healthy sleep. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol in the evening. Stay away from heavy carbohydrates at dinnertime, choosing instead a lighter meal consisting of proteins and fruits.

Finally, read my blog each week. Okay, so it may be a shameful plug, but Dr. Backs wants to guide you through the New Year with tips to help you stay healthy and enjoy life. Check back each week as we explore a variety of health and wellness topics that can help you make the most of the year ahead.

And remember, no matter what goals you set for the year ahead, always reward yourself as you make progress. That way, you have something to look forward to each step of the way. Here’s to a great new year for us all!

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