7 Healthy Habits for a Happy New Year & Beyond


Out with the old, in with the new. Another year has come and gone. And it's always a good time to set goals to improve your health. Thinking about making some changes to be healthier and happier? These 7 healthy habits for the New Year and beyond will put you on the right track:

1. Manage your weight

The truth…about 75 percent of adults are overweight or obese. It's a risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a long list of other health problems.

If you need to lose a few pounds, now is always a good time to start. If you've lost weight, set a goal to keep it off. And if you've maintained a healthy weight for a while, keep up the good work.

In addition, weight loss doesn't have to be complicated. These are the foundations for weight loss:

  • Eat fewer calories than you burn.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Manage stress in healthy ways.

2. Eat healthy foods

Is your diet SAD? It's an acronym for the Standard American Diet, which typically includes fast food, pizza, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed foods and meals, and desserts. If you want to improve your health, eating healthier foods can make a big difference. Start swapping SAD foods for more:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats
  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Low-fat dairy products

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3. Be more active

Are you getting enough exercise? Adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. Break that down into a daily goal, and it's like 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Here's the thing, most adults don't get enough exercise. But it's a powerful way to improve your health, manage your weight, boost your mood and lower your risk for disease.

Pick an activity you enjoy and make it part of your daily life.

4. Get an annual wellness check-up

Maybe you feel fine, but there's a lot of health conditions that don't always have symptoms. For example, high blood pressure is often called the silent killer.

Instead of winging it, schedule an annual wellness check-up with your doctor. This typically includes exams, screenings, and blood work to evaluate your overall health. Based on your age, your doctor may recommend additional screenings to evaluate your risk for things like breast cancer, colon cancer or prostate cancer.

5. Manage stress in healthy ways

Everybody gets stressed out from time to time. But some people manage stress in unhealthy ways like drinking, gambling, overspending, or overeating. If you want to improve your health, learn to manage stress in healthy ways such as:

  • Yoga & meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Massage therapy
  • Regular exercise
  • Journaling
  • Listening to calming music
  • Enjoying a hobby
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Reading a good book
  • Taking a hot bath

6. Get your Zzzs

Ever wake up feeling tired and groggy? Maybe you depend on coffee or energy drinks to make it through the day. Or maybe you crash every afternoon after being hit by a wave of fatigue.

Chances are pretty good you're not getting enough sleep. Did you know 1 in 3 adults don't get at least 7 hours of sleep per night? If you want to improve your health, boost energy levels, and feel better, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Here's a few tips to help you get your Zzzs:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends
  • Create a cool, dark sleeping environment
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed (phone, tablet, computer, TV)
  • Avoid eating a large meal before bed
  • Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality, but avoid exercise at least 3 hours before bed.

7. If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you're ready to quit smoking, the most successful strategies include a combination of:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Medications (over-the-counter and prescription)

And if you mess up, it's no big deal. Just pick up where you left off.

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