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New year, new you: 7 ways to improve your health in 2017

If you’ve been meaning to take better care of your health, the advent of the new year presents an ideal opportunity. Perhaps you’re looking to overhaul your diet and start eating more fruits and vegetables, or maybe you’re aiming to start some low-impact exercise routines to promote better heart and bone health. However you’re looking to improve your physical well-being this season, now is the time to get started!

Although many of us will make resolutions only to break them come February, the following tips for improving your health are easy to work into your normal routine. All you need is to take the first step and keep a positive outlook. Ready for a new you in the new year? Let’s get started!

1. Start walking
If you are able, start to walk as much as you can, whether it’s around your neighborhood, the park or a nearby beach. In the wintertime when the weather is inclement, consider walking in an indoor shopping mall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that able-bodied seniors need around two and a half hours of exercise every week and that walking counts toward that number. So leave the car at home, pop on your walking shoes and get moving.

2. Eat more seafood
One way to improve your diet is to incorporate more seafood, specifically oily fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines. As Eating Well explained, fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve cardiovascular and mental health. A study on the impact of omega-3 fatty acids revealed that people who eat more seafood tend to have healthier blood pressure readings.

3. Find small ways to get moving
It can be hard to find the time to exercise, but as Prevention noted, there are a number of simple ways that you can move more. For example, walk to the store if you can instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator and so on. Even really small steps, such as walking around your office or home every half an hour or so can have a positive impact. In essence, before you opt for the car or the elevator ask yourself the question, “Can I walk this?” You’ll soon notice a positive change in your habits.

4. Eat more whole grains
Essential for digestive health, fiber is key to any balanced and healthy diet. One surefire way to improve your intake, according to Eating Well, is to eat a greater range and variety of whole-grain products. Examples include whole-grain breads, quinoa, oatmeal and brown rice. Be careful not to overindulge in sugary breakfast bars and cereals though. Fiber is beneficial because in addition to promoting good digestion it can help safeguard against heart disease and certain cancers, notably colon cancer.

5. Get more sleep
It is common knowledge that many U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep – hectic schedules, family commitments and stimulation from electronics can all have a negative impact on one’s ability to sleep. One way to improve your health in 2017, is to make a concerted effort to get more sleep. The CDC explained that all adults, no matter their age, require around eight hours of sleep every night. If you are struggling to hit that number there are a number of steps you can take to get there. For example, stop using electronics an hour or so before bed, go to bed at a regular time every night, ensure that the room is dark and comfortable and avoid eating or drinking alcohol right before you sleep. If insomnia is something that you struggle with on a frequent basis, consult with your physician for extra help and guidance.

6. Drink water
You may be surprised to learn that many adults are consistently slightly dehydrated – many of us just don’t drink enough water. This is a mistake, because as Care2 detailed, our bodies need water to stay healthy. Often, achy feelings and fatigue can be nixed by increasing your water intake. A great way to ensure that you drink more H2O is to carry a water bottle with you while you’re out and about.

7. Ditch the bad habits
An important step toward improving your health is to put a stop to the bad habits that may be harming your long-term well-being: smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating junk food and so on. As the CDC advised, quitting smoking is especially important, as smoking can obviously cause a whole range of chronic conditions – heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, to name just a few. If you need extra help and guidance quitting, consult with your physician. And keep in mind that, as the CDC stressed, it’s never too late to quit, even if you have been smoking for decades. Those who quit will see a notable reduction in their risk of certain diseases such as cancer.