Lifestyle

LIFEWAVES: Resolve to take healthy steps

If you’re not planning on adding “lose weight” to your list of New Year’s resolutions, you’re in the minority. In fact, losing weight is one of the most commonly made resolutions, year after year. But it’s definitely not the only health resolution you should consider making for 2012.

While losing weight offers a host of benefits for many people, addressing other health issues, like your hearing health and psychological well-being, can make equally compelling New Year’s resolutions.

Go ahead and add “drop a few pounds” to your resolution list, but consider jotting these ideas down as well:

1.

Resolve to take care of your hearing health.

About 10 percent of Americans report having hearing difficulties, and that includes about 1.4 million children, according to the Better Hearing Institute. You may think you’re too young to worry about your hearing, but the BHI also reports that the majority of people with hearing loss (65 percent) are younger than 65. Our increasingly noisy world exposes people of all ages to potentially damaging sounds, so it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your hearing health.

Have your hearing professionally tested every year. If you’re diagnosed with hearing loss, talk to your health care provider to determine if a hearing aid will help you.

2.

Resolve to take care of your emotional health.

Stress seems like a natural part of our busy lives these days, but too much stress can be harmful to your overall well-being. According to WebMD, stress can negatively affect your mental health, your immune system, heart, digestive system, skin, lungs and reproductive organs.

Resolve to take steps to relieve stress. Stress-busting can take on many forms for many people, whether it’s spending time with a pet (interacting with animals can lower blood pressure and heart rate), listening to music, meditating or getting rigorous exercise. Don’t worry over how you relieve stress, just do what feels right for you and fits into your schedule and lifestyle and you’ll reap the benefits.

3.

Resolve to take care of your bone health.

Healthy bones are important for everyone, not just post-menopausal women and growing children. Most of your body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. When your body doesn’t get enough calcium from outside sources, it starts drawing what it needs from storage, and osteoporosis occurs.

While anyone can experience osteoporosis, certain groups are more at risk than others, including Caucasian women who have gone through menopause, older adults, people who are small in stature, and those with low-calcium diets or who are physically inactive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ensure your diet includes the recommended amount of calcium per day, and stay active by doing physical activities that help build bone strength, such as walking, running, dancing and weight lifting.

4.

Resolve to take care of your feet.

The condition of your feet can clue you in to your overall health, and signs of serious problems like arthritis, diabetes and circulatory issues can all be detected in the feet. More Americans have foot pain than in any other part of their bodies they consider vital to health, such as the skin, teeth or even the heart, according to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association.

To prevent foot problems, make sure you wear shoes that fit well and offer plenty of support, don’t wear the same pair every day, and avoid walking around barefoot, the APMA advises. If you experience foot pain, don’t ignore it; seek a doctor’s help.

5.

Resolve to get more rest.

Think you’re OK squeaking by with just five hours of sleep a night? Think again. The National Sleep Foundation says sleep is essential to your overall health and well-being, yet 60 percent of American adults say they have problems sleeping a few nights a week or more. On average, adults need about eight hours of sleep; some will be alright with an hour or two less, while others will need more.

To help ensure you get the rest you need, maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine before bedtime, don’t have a heavy meal or drink alcohol before you sleep, and create a sleep-friendly environment with minimal light and noise.

 

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