Healthy New Year's Resolutions

Sun. December 31, 2006 12:00 AM
by Omeed Memar, M.D.

After the ball drops and the parties end, millions of Americans will resolve to eat right, exercise, and do what it takes to get the look they want. Good health is not merely the absence of disease; it's a lifestyle. Whether it's getting enough sleep, relaxing after a stressful day, or using sun block, it's important to take time to be good to yourself.
Take steps to balance work, home, and play. Pay attention to your health, and make healthy living a part of your life.

Here is my list of suggested New Year's resolutions for you:

1. Eat Healthy and Maintain a Healthy Weight . I often tell my patients that you are what you eat. There's more truth to this saying than we once thought. What you eat and drink and what you don't eat and drink can definitely make a difference in your health. Have a balanced diet and watch how much you eat. Obesity is at an all-time high in the U.S. Those who are overweight have increased risk for diseases and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and more. Eat better, get regular exercise and see your doctor to make sure you are on the right track to staying healthy.

2. Get Moving . Did you know that more than 50 percent of American men and women do not get enough physical activity to provide health benefits? 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week is recommended. It doesn't take a lot of time or money, but it does take commitment. Use the start of the new year as your jump-start. Start slowly, work up to a satisfactory level, and don't overdo it. You want to develop a routine that you can successfully enjoy forever.

3. Be Smoke-Free . Not only does smoking cause your skin to age faster but it triples your risk of dying from heart or lung disease. If you smoke, quit today. There are many programs that can help you kick the habit.

4. Get Routine Exams and Screenings . Sometimes they're once a year. Other times they're more or less often. In addition to checking for high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, STD's, be sure to check your skin. Examining your skin for suspicious moles and other lesions could save your life. Skin cancer has a 95% cure rate when detected early, and a key to early detection is regular self-examinations of your skin. You should become familiar with your birthmarks, blemishes, and moles so you know what they look like and can spot changes. As you examine your skin, look for changes in the size, color, shape, or texture of a mark on your skin.

5. Be Safe – Protect Yourself . This is all encompassing, but worth repeating. Wear a seat belt, apply sunscreen, change the batteries in your smoke detectors, wash your hands regularly. In sum, take steps to protect yourself wherever you are.

This suggested list comes with my best wishes to all for a happy and healthy New Year! If you have any questions or issues you'd like me to address in future columns, please contact me.

Photo by: Michael Snell

Related: Choosing the Right Gym | Fitness Channel