January 2, 2006
This week, many people
made New Year's resolutions. Many of these resolutions were health
related. Some have probably already been broken. Whether broken,
or not yet made, it is not too late to resolve to have a healthier
For those still trying
to decide, here are some resolution suggestions for those
"13-years-old and up"
" * I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day,
and I will limit the amount of soda I drink.
* I will take care of my body through physical activity and
* When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break
and find constructive ways to
deal with the stress, such as exercising,
reading, writing in a journal or discussing
my problem with a parent or friend.
* When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk
with an adult about my choices.
* I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and
always treat the other person with respect and without coercion
* I will resist peer pressure
to try drugs and alcohol."
While resolutions for a
healthier year can take many forms and affect many aspects of life,
there are some that seem to be popular year after year -- and for
"The most common New
Year's resolutions are about healthier living -- losing weight,
getting more exercise and quitting smoking. Physicians and other
health care experts applaud the renewed commitment because, according
to a report by the University of Washington, 60 percent of Americans
die from illnesses connected to behavior, such as overeating, lack
of exercise and smoking."
For years "Stop Smoking"
has been a popular resolution. In fact, it has been so popular that
many have already quit and it no longer sits at number one on some
lists of health-related resolutions.
"STOP SMOKING There
are more ex-smokers today than current smokers, says Dr. Steven
Schroeder of the University of California, San Francisco. Most folks
quit cold turkey, usually after more than one attempt, but you'll
improve your chances with medication--like a nicotine patch or gum--and
some counseling. If you call a stop-smoking hotline like 1-800-QUITNOW,
you'll be given an individualized program that's based on your smoking
history and needs."
For those trying to quit,
massive ad campaigns are being distributed by several organizations
(at the national, state and local levels) to give those who are
looking to quit this year a place to turn for additional help.
28, 2005 - State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H.,
Dr. P.H., today urged all New Yorkers who smoke, to make a New Year's
resolution to quit smoking in 2006. ... 'The health benefits of
quitting smoking are undeniable. A smoker who quits reduces their
risk of developing smoking-related heart disease, stroke, cancer
and emphysema,' said Dr. Novello. 'If you are a smoker thinking
about quitting, I strongly urge you to take back your health and
make this a smoke-free New Year, quit for life.' ... Additional
benefits of quitting include avoiding premature wrinkling of the
skin; bad breath; stained teeth; gum disease; bad smelling clothes
and hair; yellow fingernails and regaining your sense of smell and
taste. Daily exercise becomes more productive and beneficial for
a person who quits smoking because they will breathe easier and
their stamina will increase."
There are certainly clear
benefits for those who quit smoking (and for those who never start).
Many who don't smoke (including those who never did) are looking
for other ways to be healthier in 2006.
"This may be the prime
time for dieting, but a survey suggests Britons are shunning trendy
weight loss plans. A Marks and Spencer poll of 1,000 people found
the number opting for balanced meals instead has risen by around
a fifth in five years. In 2000, 50% claimed to eat well and one
in five was on a diet, but now two thirds eat a balanced diet -
and only 7% opt for strict dietary regimes. Dieticians welcomed
the move away from faddy eating habits. They said a balanced diet
and exercise plan was the best way to lose weight."
A healthier lifestyle includes
a healthy diet and exercise. This is not new news. Even those who
are too young to remember having made very many New Year's resolutions
in the past are vowing to make this the year to begin eating healthier.
"'My New Year's promise
is to eat my vegetables because they make me tall, tall, tall! Sabrina
Haugum-Diego, [age] 3 1/2' ... 'In 2005, I ate a lot of junk food
so, this year, I will eat better foods like apples and bananas.
Hunter Ketchum, [age] 9.'"
For many, a healthy diet
comes with the goal of a healthy weight. A few are resolving to
eat in a healthy manner and gain pounds to reach a healthy weight.
Some are resolving to maintain a healthy diet and, with that, a
healthy weight. Still more are looking to that healthy diet to help
them lose the extra pounds that are keeping them from the goal of
a healthy weight...
"While losing weight
is difficult for many people, it is even more challenging to keep
weight off. Eighty percent to 85 percent of those who lose a large
amount of weight regain it. One theory about regaining lost weight
is that people who decrease their caloric intake to lose weight
experience a drop in their metabolic rate, making it increasingly
difficult to lose weight over a period of months. A lower metabolic
rate may also make it easier to regain weight after a more normal
diet is resumed. For these reasons, extremely low calorie diets
and rapid weight loss are discouraged. Losing no more than one to
two pounds per week is recommended. Incorporating long-term lifestyle
changes will increase the chance of successful long-term weight
Diet is not alone in creating
a healthy lifestyle. More often than not we hear "diet and
exercise" in the same breath as health experts encourage healthier
living. If your resolution is to "get more exercise" this
"Start small, with
simple changes, says James Hill of the Health Sciences Center at
the University of Colorado. ... Once you have achieved your first
goal, it's time to set another."
While this study focuses
on "children and young teens," they are not the only ones
motivated by fun...
"Children and young
teens may be more likely to exercise if they're motivated by fun
and fitness rather than weight concerns, a new study suggests. In
a study of 200 students (average age, 12-1/2 years) at one Pennsylvania
middle school, researchers found that 'personal fulfillment' was
the only motivation to be active. That meant that kids tended to
exercise for the sake of their health and athletic skills, and to
simply feel good -- and not in order to shed pounds or to emulate
their friends or parents. ... But weight goals did not spur kids
to exercise. In fact, personal fulfillment was the only factor that
was important for all students, regardless of their weight. Even
though overweight children put more value on weight loss than their
thinner peers did, personal fulfillment was still a more important
motivation to be active, according to findings published in the
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. ... If
kids are indeed motivated by health, skill-building and fun, then
physical education in schools may be able to play a key role, according
to Haverly. Not all kids have the athleticism or interest needed
for organized sports, she pointed out, so it's important for them
to have the chance to exercise in a non-competitive, health-focused
Whatever your plans, it
is best for people making lifestyle changes to make sure that what
they are doing is going to offer the benefits they are looking for
with as few risks as possible...
is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But sometimes it's
best to check with your doctor before you begin to exercise. Regular
exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart
disease, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But before you lace
up your workout shoes, you may want to talk to your doctor. Although
physical activity is perfectly safe for most people, sometimes it's
important to get a doctor's OK before you exercise. ... Working
with your doctor ahead of time may be the best way to plan an exercise
program that's right for you. Consider it the first step on the
path to physical fitness."
Questions of the Week:
What resolutions (if any) have you made this year? What resources
are available to help you keep the resolutions you made? What resolutions
should be more than just a one year commitment? For those who have
already broken their resolutions, how would you encourage them (or
yourself) to continue in the direction of healthy living? For those
who don't like to make official resolutions, what changes can (or
should) you make so that 2006 and the years to follow are healthier
than previous years?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum