As the new year is well underway, many of us are likely starting to wonder how we can be bigger and better in 2021 (whilst also crossing all fingers and toes that it’s a very different year to 2020). We write lists filled with all sorts of goals; the pantry will finally be rearranged in the new year with everything beautifully labelled, commitments are made to lose weight/exercise more/party less – often the lists are ignored (let’s be honest!) and by the 31st of January we realise that, yet again, we set the expectations too high and none of them were ever going to be met.
So, as a GP I’m going to give you 3 achievable goals that could make a big difference to your health journey in the new year (feel free to take one, all or none!):
1. Can you build in some regular exercise into your 2021?
Physical activity is good for you. Yes, it that simple. Regular exercise (just 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week) can reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, bowel and breast cancer. Exercise is also great for your brain with research suggesting that just an hour per week can reduce the risk of depression. Exercise is something I prescribe my patients often; for stress management, anxiety and management of chronic medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver.
If you’re not doing much now – be kind to yourself and start slowly. A 20-minute walk three times a week is a great start. And once you’ve nailed that for a month or so, build it up aiming for 30 minutes 4 times a week and so on. Don’t compete with Instagram or those around you – you don’t have to do high intensity training for it to count as exercise (but you can if you want to!); walking, cycling, swimming – it all counts.
2. Get that “thing” checked by your GP
Make it your new year’s resolution to sort your health out. Have you been sitting on a mole that you’re worried about? Have you let your sleep issues grumble wondering if they will miraculously sort itself out? Is your cervical cancer screening test up to date? When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Are you due for your annual skin check? Even if you don’t have a niggling health issue (like a sore shoulder that plays up every time you hang the washing) – a preventative health check is likely due!
3. Aim for more rainbows in the new year!
The Australia Health Report 2018 revealed that 99% of kids aged 2-19 and 96% of adults don’t get the recommended amount of vegetables in their diet. Veggies (like exercise – yes, there’s a trend here!) are great for you. Getting in enough fruit and vegetables reduces chronic disease risk and risk of certain cancers. So, if you’re looking for a new year’s resolution – perhaps make it bumping up your fruit and veggie intake! It isn’t a huge resolution (and certainly easier than rearranging the pantry), but it can make a huge difference to your health!
Some simple places to start with your health in the new year!