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Published on December 19, 2016

12 ways to stay healthy in the new year

If the goal of your New Year's resolution is to stay hale and hearty – plus safe and secure – here are 12 tips for making true wellness a reality in 2016.

  1. Get a handle on stress. Give yourself a break whenever you feel stressed out, overwhelmed or out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially and get plenty of sleep.
  2. Get enough rest. Being asleep may seem like the ultimate form of inactivity, but those unconscious hours are actually a time of hard work for your body. Sleeping is one way your body recovers from damage and protects itself against illness. While some people can carry out the ordinary functions of the day on three to four hours of sleep a night, most individuals need seven to eight hours to successfully deal with a day of problem-solving.
  3. Make sure you and your children have the right kinds of vaccinations. Vaccines can prevent certain diseases and save lives. Everyone six months old or older who is medically able should get the flu vaccine each year. You may want to consider other adult vaccinations, such as the one for shingles and the one for pneumonia.
  4. Don't drink and drive or let those around you do so. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger.
  5. If you use tobacco, take steps to quit. Call Stay Healthy at the Oakdale Mall for help with smoking cessation. You'll feel better and lower your risk of tobacco-related diseases. Also make sure you don't expose your family to second-hand smoke.
  6. When you're driving, fasten your safety belt and make sure others in your vehicle are buckled up as well. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat or seatbelt, according to their height, weight and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip, and encourage your passengers to do the same.
  7. Get the types of exams, checkups and screenings that are right for you. Ask your doctor or other healthcare provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history. Get insurance through your employer or from the health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act if you're not yet insured.
  8. Practice fire safety at home, work and school. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don't leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
  9. Eat healthfully. Focus on fruits and vegetables, which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt and sugar. Talk with your provider or a registered dietitian to learn how to control your weight by making the right cooking and eating choices. Both you and your family will benefit.
  10. Develop an exercise program that fits your age, weight, current health status and personal interests. Start out slowly and work up gradually to a higher level of activity. Monitor your cardiovascular health and work out safely to avoid the "weekend warrior"-type of sports injury. Even a small amount of activity regularly can benefit your body and improve your frame of mind. Many experts recommend 45 minutes of physical activity three times a week. New data suggests intense exercise for 20 seconds, three times in a 10-minute period, may be even better – but talk with your provider before launching a vigorous program.
  11. Use the “buddy system.” Having friends makes you a well-rounded person, gives you an opportunity to talk through problems and issues, and generally makes you feel better about life. Plus, a social network of friends can offer support in times of trouble and help you stay accountable for key decisions.
  12. Be a lifelong learner. Learning a new skill, taking up a new hobby, playing video games or even trying to find a new route (without a GPS) to a place you regularly visit are the kinds of actions that can minimize your risk of memory loss and keep you sharp and alert as the years go by.

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