Resolutions for a Healthy New Year

From vowing to quit smoking to establishing a new exercise regimen, new year resolutions often have a health aspect to them. But beyond the popular resolutions to lose weight or eliminate bad habits, the new year can provide the perfect opportunity for Americans to take charge of their health and make sure they are getting the routine medical care that prevents disease--and ensure that they will have many, many more healthy new years in their future.

“The start of another new year provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and look ahead to changes we can make today to improve our health tomorrow,” said American Medical Association President-elect Ron Davis, M.D. “It is important that we develop healthy lifestyles and behaviors that we can carry with us throughout our lives.”

The AMA offers these healthy resolutions for 2007:

Don’t Smoke.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, but non-smokers should make every effort to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke as well. The U.S. Surgeon General reported earlier this year that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke, and the California Environmental Protection Agency estimates that secondhand smoke kills 50,000 Americans each year.

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables.

The USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommends eating about two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables daily to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, stroke and high blood pressure.

Cut Back on Salt.

Limit your salt intake to one teaspoon per day (if you are 50 years of age or older, cut back to about half a teaspoon per day) to help lower blood pressure and decrease your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke.

Limit Fat in Your Diet.

Eat a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and trans fats to reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of developing heart disease.

Check Cholesterol.

Have your blood cholesterol checked regularly by your doctor and keep your cholesterol level under 200 mg/dl to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Reduce Amount of Soda You Drink.

Per capita soft-drink consumption has increased by almost 500 percent over the past 50 years. Limit your consumption of regular soda pop and other sugar-sweetened drinks to help you avoid weight gain and obesity, and to also decrease tooth decay.

Check Blood Pressure.

Have your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor to help reduce your chances of heart attack or stroke. If you have high blood pressure, make sure that you keep your blood pressure under 140/90.

Get a Colonoscopy.

If you are 50 years of age or older, ask your doctor about getting a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer to improve your chances of early detection.

Get a Mammogram.

If you are a woman 40 years or older, get a mammogram every one to two years to help ensure the early detection of breast cancer. Should cancer be diagnosed, early detection is key to survival.

Protect Your Skin from the Sun.

Use sunblock (with an SPF of at least 30) or protective clothing when you’re in sunlight for a prolonged period. If you frequently get a suntan or sunburn, have your doctor check your skin regularly to detect early signs of skin cancer.

“These resolutions are just a few of the things you can do to make positive, healthy lifestyle changes," said Dr. David. "In 2007, continue to look to the AMA for a wide range of health information and continue to turn to your physician for the highest quality of care for you and your family,” he said.