HEALTHY AND WISE
It's almost a new year — and that means it's time to think about resolutions. Setting goals that will help you feel better physically and mentally may also save a little money, but goals can be hard to keep. Luckily, these 26 healthy resolutions are easy to achieve and maintain. As with all New Year's resolutions, it's important to write them down, share with family and friends, and decide how to hold yourself accountable.
Don't make a radical change, as the physical strain could result in injury and end your new workout plan before it even begins. Moving more could be as simple as a daily 15-minute walk or a 10-minute yoga video each morning. An hour of physical activity every day is a laudable goal, but small increments can also boost physical and emotional well-being.
Already a regular at the gym? For a few days each week, try shifting your focus from cardio to lifting weights. Weights help build lean muscle mass, fire up your metabolism, and enhance your cardio sweat sessions, too.
DRINK MORE WATER
While the old saw about drinking eight glasses of water a day is outdated, staying hydrated is still critical for good health. Don't wait until thirst hits. Sip fluids regularly throughout the day and with each meal. People who live in hotter climates or engage in physical activity need more water than more sedentary people in cooler climates. People who are sick and women who are breastfeeding should also hydrate.
DITCH SUGARY DRINKS
Kicking a soda, sweetened coffee, or juice habit for plain water is vital for good health. This simple New Year's resolution saves about 240 calories for each 20-ounce soda — along with whatever money that might have gone toward the bad habit, which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. A glass of water costs mere pennies.
LIMIT THE BOOZE
An occasional alcoholic drink is fine, but overdoing it on a regular basis can have serious health effects. Excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with problems such as depression, memory loss, seizures, liver and heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and even some cancers. Cutting back on the booze also alleviates pressure on the wallet.
STRENGTHEN SOCIAL TIES
Having friends and strong social ties is vital to well-being. A study published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS Medicine) suggests that social ties can influence life span as much as known health factors such as smoking, obesity, and alcohol abuse. Find your people and stick with them.
This is a popular resolution for good reason. The detrimental effects of smoking are well established, and there's no excuse for holding on to this smelly, expensive, and simply bad habit. Although it's difficult to do, resolve to quit and make it happen whether that means cold turkey or using nicotine patches. The savings will accrue to your health as well as your budget.
SHOP WITH A LIST
Walking into the supermarket with a shopping list is an effective way to avoid impulse purchases of unhealthy foods and save money while doing it. Instead of randomly tossing items into your cart, follow a list that includes healthy options such as fresh fruits and vegetables and keep processed foods to a minimum.
Take two or three minutes out of the day to sit and meditate. Newbies who embrace this New Year's resolution can turn to a free beginner's guide on the Gaiam website for tips on getting started. Meditation is believed to lower anxiety, stress, heart rate, and blood pressure and increase feelings of relaxation and wellbeing.
Remember the adage "what goes around, comes around"? Helping others by volunteering can, according to a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, lower mortality, reduce depression, and increase functional ability. Adhering to this resolution doesn't cost anything but time.
TAKE A VACATION
Everyone needs a break and get some distance from the daily grind. Resolve to take a vacation (or at least several long weekend getaways) in the coming year. Taking an extended break can improve cardiovascular health, decrease depression, and ironically, improve productivity.
DISCONNECT EACH DAY
Find ways to unplug from electronics, even for a few minutes if the thought seems unbearable. Delay checking your phone first thing in the morning, or turn it off an hour before you go to bed. Instead of staring at the screen, try engaging more with the people and environment around you.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Breaking away from the daily routine can be a boon to health. Challenge your body in a new way, or take a new dance or martial arts class. Harvard Medical School says challenging your mind with a new hobby can improve mental accuity into old age.
MEET SOMEONE NEW
Meeting new people exposes you to new ideas, a diversity of opinions, and can help with feelings of isolation or depression. Sign up for a local meet-up that interests you, join a new book club or moms group, or make it a goal to talk to someone in that new fitness class you're taking. Chances are you'll meet new people and have fun.
Keeping the mind active is as critical to health as keeping the body active. Exercising the mind boosts memory, vocabulary, and self-esteem. Take a class at a community center or community college, or go back to school for that degree you always wanted.
TAKE HOURLY BREAKS
Take five minutes of every hour during the day to get moving. This is especially important for desk jockeys or anyone who leads a sedentary lifestyle. Set a timer to signal the moment to stand up and stretch or walk around. The small break is a good way to give the brain some relief and get the blood pumping.
EAT DARK, LEAFY GREENS
Kale, spinach, cabbage, arugula, turnip greens — they all provide health benefits. Dark leafy greens contain calcium, iron, and folic acid, help to prevent cancer and heart disease, and manage weight and Type 2 diabetes. Commit to adding more of these vegetables to your diet this year.
BULK UP BREAKFAST
If you're accustomed to a quick bowl of cereal or a pop tart on the way out the door, its time to rethink breakfast. This essential meal of the day needs to be balanced and healthy no matter how rushed you are in the mornings. If you don't have time to whip up a fresh breakfast everyday, try prepping it all on the weekend so you can still grab and go on busy weekday mornings, without sacrificing your nutrition and health. Pinterest has a plethora of ideas to give you a jumpstart.
DITCH YO-YO DIETING
Instead of hopping from one diet fad to another, try making permanent diet changes that you can live with indefinitely. Extreme diets may work fast and sudden, but rarely any of these work in the long run because they are too hard to maintain for any length of time. Instead make healthy eating changes that you can live with and that are easy to maintain.
Instead of eating out every day, bring lunch from home to save money and calories. Brown-bagging gives you more control over the quality and quantity of food you eat and an opportunity to pack in those dark leafy greens.
FIND A WORKOUT PAL
Raise the odds of getting and staying active by working out with a pal. The buddy system keeps partners accountable and on track. It's also easier to meet goals and a lot more fun with a friend beside you.
This may sound silly, but get in the habit of holding a plank position (as if you're about to do a pushup) every morning after getting out of bed. Consider this activity as much a necessity as brushing your teeth. Start for a few seconds and increase the time gradually to at least one minute. A plank works the entire body and gets you ready to stay active all day.
Overextending oneself is an American pastime. Everyone is overworked, overbooked, and downright stressed. Vow to put yourself first this year by saying no at least once a day. This will help eliminate at least some stress, which is good for mental and physical health.
Being in debt can be stressful, but there are many ways to save more in the coming year. Cutting daily outlays by $10 adds up to big savings and is easier than you might think. Simple suggestions: Bike or carpool to work instead of driving, make coffee in the morning instead of hitting a local haunt, and work out at home instead of buying a gym membership.
FOCUS MORE ON EXPERIENCES
Instead of making 2019 the year of accumulating things, try making it the year for experiences. Less stuff means less money spent, less clutter, less that you have to take care of, and more money in your wallet to go out and make memories with loved ones.