new year brings new resolutions for many and those New Year’s resolutions could also lead to some health benefits.
According to a report published in JAMA, setting resolutions actually has practical value for older people and can impact their health positively providing a sense of purpose, which leads to better physical and mental health.
The year 2020 came with heaping amounts of stress, social isolation and worry surrounding the novel coronavirus. Entering a new year can be the perfect time to start fresh and establish some new and healthier habits. According to the JAMA study, creating New Year’s resolutions and goals can provide older adults with a purpose in life that may extend their life resulting in fewer chronic conditions, less disability and reduced mortality. Also, people already suffering from chronic conditions should set up simple and realistic goals that are manageable with their health challenges.
I encourage everyone to keep the new year’s resolution and goal setting tradition strong. Here are five achievable resolutions to kick off the new year on the right foot.
Pursue an active lifestyle/
Staying active is a great goal to have each year. While some workout opportunities have become limited due to the pandemic, it is still important to stay as active as possible through home exercise. Adults can engage in resistance training at home, aerobics, yoga and walks around the neighborhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity is vital for healthy aging. It’s important to talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level. Ask about the amounts and types of activities that may be best for you.
Home-cooked meals and healthy snacks are recommended. If you’re restricted to a special diet after developing an allergy or other condition, talk to your doctor about your meal plan.
Depending on how they’re prepared, home-cooked meals can often have lower levels of sodium, sugar and fat when compared to meals at a restaurant.
Challenge your brain and stimulate your mind.
It is important to practice a form of daily brain stimulation. According to the National Institutes of Aging, aging causes changes to the brain size, vasculature and cognition. A healthy life, both physically and mentally, may be the best defense against the changes of an aging brain. Completing crossword puzzles and playing games, such as chess, can be fun ways to keep your mind active while enjoying a new hobby. However, there is a lot more older adults can do.
Stay connected with friends and family.
A dose of family and friends can be beneficial. The National Institute of Health mentions that older people with strong social and community ties are more likely to live a longer life, and cites research that being in isolation can contribute to high blood pressure.
It is recommended that adults stay in touch with loved ones virtually or safely socially distanced inside or outdoors. If you’re not familiar with certain video call or messaging apps, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the technology your family is using. Make it a goal to learn something new this year.
Nurture an interest.
According to the National Institute on Aging, people who engage in activities or hobbies can feel happier and healthier. Learning new skills can also increase cognitive function. Music, theater, dance and creative writing are ways to improve the wellbeing of older adults. These specific interests can help with memory, boost self-esteem, reduce stress and increase social interactions.
Editor’s Note: Rich Crislip is OptumCare Network of Arizona director of health integration.