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Lots of people will make a New Year’s Resolution to live healthier in 2021.
A healthier lifestyle has many benefits, from lower risk of health problems to improving mental health to spending less on expensive junk food or cigarettes.
That is why our team at Salud America! works to promote news, stories, and action opportunities for health equity, where everyone has a fair, just opportunity to live their healthiest lives.
Here are some unique New Year’s resolutions.
1. Get More Physically Active…and Help Other People Do the Same!
Physical activity can help.
A New Year’s resolution to increase your physical activity can improve health, quality of life, and reduce healthcare costs.
Becoming more physically active can help reduce the risk of at least 20 chronic diseases and conditions. It also effectively treats many of these conditions. In addition, it can potentially benefit better school performance, mental health, and improved military readiness.
But don’t just stop there.
Consider starting a “Work Out, Help Out” community group.
Just like Paul Rezaei. He is a personal trainer in San Antonio who grew tired of watching people spend energy to jog on treadmills and move weights at the gym.
So he started to host volunteer community service events. At each event, a personal trainer also would provide “breaks” for physical activity for volunteers.
Volunteers enhance community gardens, paint and fix homes of the elderly, move gravel at schools, and more. Depending on the number of volunteers, they switch off between stations centered on volunteer work and exercise stations.
“Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer,” according to the program website.
2. Drink More Water…and Help Increase Access to Water for Students in Schools!
A New Year’s resolution to drink more water can really improve your health.
Drinking more water has countless benefits.
Proper hydration helps maximize physical performance, impact energy and brain function, prevents headaches, can aid in weight loss, and more, according to Healthline.
But clean water is not always easy to get.
For example, Latino children are more likely than their peers to drink unhealthy sugary drinks, and less likely to drink water, according to a Salud America! research review.
This is where you can help.
You can prompt your school to add Water Bottle Fountains.
A Water Bottle Fountain is different than a traditional water fountain. These filtered water stations enable students to refill water bottles, giving them much-needed access to safe drinking water throughout the school day.
They also save families money from buying bottled water, and they help the environment by reducing waste.
Download the Salud America! Water Bottle Fountain Action Pack to get help in pushing your school to add these important hydration stations.
3. Stop Smoking…and Share With Others an Easy Way to Quit, Called Quitxt!
U.S. cigarette smoking rates have declined from 42% in 1965 to 13.7% in 2019.
But over 32.4 million American adults still smoke cigarettes, according to the American Cancer Society. In South Texas, cigarette smoking rates are high among Mexican Americans, ranging up to 25.7%. And smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world.
You can get help quitting.
Just turn on your phone and send a text.
Quitxt is a bilingual service from UT Health San Antonio and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas that sends messages via phone texts or Facebook Messenger chat to help South Texas adults quit smoking.
Join Quitxt in one of two ways:
- Text version: For English, text “iquit” to 844-332-2058. For Spanish, text “lodejo” to 844-332-2058.
- Facebook Messenger version: Go here and just hit “send message.”
Even if you don’t smoke, you can share Quitxt and help your friends and family.
How Can You Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution?
VeryWellMind has a few tips:
Put time into planning. “Experts suggest that you brainstorm how you will tackle a major behavior change, including the steps you will take, why you want to do it, and ways you can keep yourself on track.”
Start with small steps. “If you are trying to eat healthier, start by replacing some of your favorite less healthy foods with more nutritious foods. Then, tackle another element of your diet, such as adding in a greater variety of vegetables, reducing portion size, and/or cutting back on fried food or eating out.
Remember that change is a process. “Those unhealthy or undesired habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so how can you expect to change them in just a matter of days, weeks, or months? Be patient with yourself. Understand that working toward your resolution is a process. Even if you make a misstep or two, you can restart and continue on your journey towards your goal.”
Jordan Rosenfeld of Mental Floss recommends giving yourself time.
“A British researcher found that, in fact, it’s closer to 66 days [to forge a new habit],” he wrote. “Luckily, you can miss a day in there, so long as you lay out a plan in advance that sets out concrete actions you can take on a daily basis, and do not feel pressured to ‘perform.'”
Harvard Medical School also suggests giving yourself a medal.
“Don’t wait to call yourself a winner until you’ve pounded through the last mile of your big dream marathon or lost every unwanted ounce. Health changes are often incremental. Encourage yourself to keep at it by pausing to acknowledge success as you tick off small and big steps en route to a goal,” they wrote.
“Blast your favorite tune each time you reach 5,000 steps. Get a pat on the back from your coach or spouse. Ask family and friends to cheer you on. Look for an online support group.”
And you can always take action for healthier communities, too!