The new year is a great time for self-assessment, and a focal point of that assessment should be your health. We are often inundated with information about making healthy choices, such as what we should and should not be eating, the latest in health risk statistics and the hottest workout trends. The sheer amount of information and advice can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
For 2016, try taking a simple approach to your health and wellness. As you make changes in the New Year, here are three of the most important things to consider.
Take ownership of your health It’s your body, and you should know what’s going on with it. This includes having a clear picture of your health, as well as knowing what medications you are taking and why.
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor to test your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. Familiarize yourself with your family history to determine the genetic conditions for which you might be at risk. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctors and nurses questions when you don’t understand something. This will help you make better decisions about your health. The more you and your doctors know, the better the chance of properly addressing any medical issues.
Be active Even when it’s cold outside, it’s important to be physically active. When we don’t put our bodies to good use, we can develop symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty sleeping, depression, anxiety and weight gain.
Weight gain can lead to a host of other medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke. Keep these issues from developing by engaging in regular physical activity. Working out with a family member or friend can help hold you accountable and make exercise more enjoyable. Many fitness facilities offer special pricing in January, making this time of year a great time to join.
Good winter exercise options include: walking, hiking or jogging outdoors, on an indoor track or at the mall; swimming in a heated pool; biking outdoors or on a stationary bike; yoga and Pilates classes, which focus on building strength and flexibility; other group exercise classes tailored to your age and interests.
Maintain good mental health Much research has shown the link between mental health and overall wellness. While more Americans are finally putting in the necessary time and effort on their physical health, too many of us still neglect our mental health.
We live in a fast-paced, stressful world. Anxiety and depression can befall the best of us when we don’t take the time to care for our emotional well-being. Some ways you can promote good mental health include meditation, talking with a therapist, counselor, clergyman or close friend, spending time outside, and yoga or other exercise.
Taken together, these simple steps can set you on a path to a happier, healthier 2016.
Dr. Cady M. Brown is with KentuckyOne Health Primary Care Associates