Let's face it; millions of people around the world make New Year's resolutions that fall by the wayside before the end of January. However, resolutions based on health, fitness and general well-being have the potential to transform - and possibly extend - your life, but they must be sustainable. These ten health-related New Year's resolutions should help you to look and feel better.
1. Lose weight
A Body Mass Index (BMI) in the normal range can stave off the threat of heart disease and various other ailments, as well as reduce the likelihood of developing cancer. All you need to do in order to calculate your BMI is to divide your weight in kilos by your height in metres. Therefore, if you weigh 70 kilos, and you're 1.75 metres in height, your BMI is 40. If your BMI is more than 25, you're considered as clinically overweight, and anything over 30 is considered as obese. As well as the various health-related benefits of having a normal BMI, losing weight for the New Year will help you to look and feel much better.
2. Stop smoking
The benefits of not quitting tobacco are well documented, yet millions of people still light up - knowing that their lives could be shortened as a result. Talk to a GP about the various options available to you, which might include nicotine patches, counselling or so-called e-cigarettes.
3. Cut the cost of living
There are several ways you can cut down on your cost of living and enjoy related health benefits. For example, buy a bike and leave your car at home to save on fuel costs. Stop buying so many take-a ways, and learn how to cook instead. Walk whenever the weather permits to save on the cost of public transport, and plan your food shopping to the last penny, as simply wandering around a supermarket can lead to unhealthy impulse purchases.
4. Reduce the stress you're under
Most people have to deal with stress to some degree, but excess stress can lead to a range of health issues, including coronary heart disease, obesity and depression. Take lots of exercise, eat a healthy diet and spend lots of time with family and friends. If your job is the source of much stress, it may be time to look for a new career.
5. Cut back on your drinking
Several studies have uncovered evidence that drinking alcohol in strict moderation can have some modest health benefits. However, far too many people binge drink, which can lead to a range of ailments, including depression, liver disease, obesity and heart disease. Stick to the UK government's guidelines of no more than four units per day for men, or three units for women. To put that into context, three units is roughly the same as a large glass of wine. Also, try not to drink on two consecutive days.
6. Get more sleep
Lack of sleep is known to affect moods, energy levels and general well-being, but it is also thought to increase a sufferer's risk of developing diabetes and obesity. Keep distractions, light-emitting devices and anything that causes ambient noise out of the bedroom. If necessary, use an activity tracker to monitor your sleep patterns, as this might help you to discover why your sleep is being interrupted.
7. Exercise regularly
Whether you are overweight or have a normal BMI, the benefits of regular exercise are numerous. Taking at least 30 minutes of strenuous exercise three times a week has been proven to reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and a huge range of associated ailments. Consider using a fitness tracker if you need help with motivation and achieving your goals.
8. Get used to smaller portions
As a simple rule of thumb, your portions of protein should never be larger than the palm of your hand. Load up on green vegetables, but be careful when dishing out carb-rich foods such as potatoes. Also, consider switching to smaller dinner plates, as the natural tendency is often to fill a plate with food.
9. Cut your salt intake
High levels of sodium have been linked to raised blood pressure and water retention, which can increase the risk of you having a stroke or a heart attack. If you must buy pre-prepared food, check the labels for salt content, and make sure you aren't consuming more than your recommended daily allowance. However, a much better option is to prepare your own food from scratch, as this allows you to take full control of your salt consumption.
10. Make healthy living fun and sustainable
Too many people throw themselves into a sudden and market lifestyle change, only to lose motivation after just a few weeks. The changes you make will only provide lasting benefits if they can be maintained, so try to keep things as fun and realistic as you can.