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8 Ways to Improve Your Health Right Now

When January 1 rolls around, we are often more determined than ever to get fit and feel great. Research shows that only 8 percent of us actually achieve New Year’s resolutions, however. The main reason? We make dreamy resolutions but fail to follow up with the planning and work needed to achieve them.

Instead of waiting to make a New Year’s resolution when it comes to your health, get ahead of the game. As a partner of the Together Counts™ program for healthy, active living, we encourage you to decide that instead of letting the holiday season get the best of you, you are going to get a jump start on a healthier 2017.

Take these 8 suggestions from SPARK to improve the whole family’s health in the New Year:

  • Just move. Our bodies were made for movement. Whether you take a family walk for an hour after dinner each evening, set the mood for the day with a morning yoga session, or even include some of SPARK’s lesson plans during playtime with your kids, just get moving. Institute a friendly family football game each Sunday and teach the little ones how to throw a perfect spiral. Movement in your everyday life counts.
  • Eat smart. There will be plenty of invitations to parties and gatherings this winter, and you should definitely make the most of those and attend. But that doesn’t mean you have to fill your plate with the highest-calorie goodies at the serving table in the name of good cheer. Pack portable, protein-rich snacks like cheese and crackers, nuts or a small tub of yogurt for marathon shopping sessions rather than making a stop at the mall’s cafeteria. Try bringing your own meal packed from home to the office. There are so many delicious temptations during the winter months, so save your splurging for the times when it means the most.
  • Monitor your activity. Many people track what they eat when they are trying to lose weight—but have you ever thought about keeping an eye on your activity levels? When you have a high-calorie day, add some time onto your workout or take a long walk in your neighborhood. Don’t assume that your activity level is high enough to counteract what you consume. You could even consider purchasing a device that tracks it for you and gives insight into your habits, helping you make healthy changes.
  • Stay hydrated. There are plenty of reasons to stay hydrated. People often mistake thirst with hunger and eat when they should really be pouring themselves a nice tall glass from the fridge. Hydration can also boost immunity and energy level, a must during the fall and winter seasons.
  • Replace sedentary habits with active ones. Keep a journal each day that charts how much activity you get in a 24-hour period. Write down the amount of time you spend watching television on the couch, sitting at your office desk, and sleeping. Take a look at your typical habits after you’ve recorded them and look for ways to replace some of the sedentary stuff with an activity. Just four five-minute breaks from your desk for a brief walk add up to an hour and 40 minutes every week. Schedule gym visits during your favorite shows and watch them from a treadmill. You do not need to be on your feet every waking hour, but make minor adjustments to maximize your activity levels.
  • Improve sleep habits. Sleep is an incredibly overlooked but very important component of overall health. The Centers for Disease Control have declared American sleep deprivation a health epidemic because of its prevalence and negative health outcomes. Adults generally need eight hours of sleep to perform their best the next day. If you have trouble nodding off when your body is tired, take a look at what habits may be causing it. Consistent sleep will improve your entire quality of life so make it a priority going into the New Year.
  • Reduce stress. Stress is a part of life. That means stress management is a part of life. Try to approach every situation with a rational attitude and avoid negative thought patterns. What’s causing your stress? It’s a problem that needs a solution—and the solution is as simple as writing down what needs to be done to make the problem go away, and then following through. Practicing yoga, joining a church or art group, or simply taking a few minutes every morning to meditate will help keep your stress level low. Exercise, restful sleep, and a healthy diet help you manage stress too—see how it’s all connected?

Maintaining your health is a lifelong process, but there is certainly no reason to wait for January 1st to make some improvements. Instead of letting the winter season steal your health, decide to make some changes now that will set you up for a successful 2017!

SPARK is a research-based organization that provides award-winning, evidence-based programs for Physical Education (K-12), After SchoolEarly Childhood, and Coordinated School Health and is a member of the Together Counts Program™. Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum, training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders worldwide. Visit www.sparkpe.org to download sample lesson plans, find grant opportunities, and register for free educational webinars and monthly eNewsletters.

For more healthy ideas, take a look at these other posts from Together Counts!

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