The five health resolutions you should make this New Year
There’s nothing like the start of a new year for making changes. If health is on your mind, here are some resolutions you might like to consider.
Another New Year is upon us, presenting us with the ideal opportunity to recalibrate, reconsider, rethink.
What can you do differently in 2021 than you did in 2020 to look after yourself? Here are five suggestions.
Consume less alcohol>
What the experts say: “There is no safe level of alcohol consumption” – The Global Burden of Disease report, 2018
Nobody expects you to be a teetotaller, but drinking a little less is a step in the right direction. Keep in mind that what you drink doesn’t matter as much as how you drink it: having seven drinks on Friday night and then not drinking for the rest of the week doesn’t extrapolate to having one drink a day, according to research. Studies have found that smaller amounts of alcohol (about one standard drink a day) spread out over four or more days a week is healthier than concentrated drinking.
Eat more dark leafy greens
What the experts say: “Eating green leafy vegetables … rich in vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene can help to keep the brain healthy to preserve functioning” – Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Your mum was right: you should eat your greens, and lots of them. Dark green leafy vegetables are powerhouses of nutrition, so try and consume kale, spinach, rocket, chard, bok choy and broccoli as regularly as you can. And remember, while it’s recommended you eat three cups of veggies a day, two cups of raw greens are the nutritional equivalent of only one cup of other vegetables.
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Set attainable exercise goals
What the experts say: “You are more likely to reach your ultimate goal if you break it down into small, short-term mini-goals. Short-term goals are specific, daily actions or behaviours that lead you to your ultimate goal” – Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel
You might want to be able to run a marathon by April, but setting yourself small, short-term goals is the best approach to keeping your fitness regime alive and kicking. First, work out what your ultimate goal is — it might be losing five kilos, or swimming 10 laps of the local pool. Write it down, and be specific. Then work out how you’re going to achieve that goal and set realistic targets that you can meet every day. The Better Health Channel suggests considering each exercise routine as a mini-goal: “For example, one mini goal might be to exercise on all or most days of the week. The more mini goals you achieve, the more motivated you will become.”
Reduce your caffeine intake
What the experts say: “Excess caffeine consumption is increasingly being recognised by health-care professionals and by regulatory agencies as potentially harmful” – The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review
Most global health authorities agree: consuming up to 400mg of caffeine a day (that’s two 50ml espressos, or eight 250ml cups of black tea) is safe for most healthy adults. But taken in excess over time, caffeine can increase the risk of heartburn, osteoporosis, insomnia and infertility in men. Look at how much caffeine you’re consuming in a day — that includes coffee, tea, chocolate, cola and energy drinks — and cut back if you’re tipping the 400mg mark. The table here will help you calculate your intake.
Drink more water
What the experts say: “If the body doesn’t have enough water, it won’t function as well. Even minor dehydration can affect physical and mental performance” – Australian Government guidelines on ‘Drinking Water and Your Health’
Are you the only person in your workplace not guzzling water all day? Well, that needs to change in 2021, because drinking water is absolutely essential for staying healthy. Here are just a few of the things water allows your body to do:
- make hormones and neurotransmitters
- regulate body temperature
- lubricate joints
- support cell growth and reproduction, an
- transport oxygen throughout the body.
As a general rule, men should be drinking about 2,500ml of water a day, and women 2,000ml — and yes, coffee, tea, fruit juice and soft drinks count (but all in moderation, especially sugary drinks).
Other things to consider
- Doing a regular digital detox
- Introducing a “slow Sunday” where you put the brakes on
- Finding some stillness every day
- Sitting less and moving more
- Spending more time outside in the fresh air.
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This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.