Of all the New Year’s resolutions that people make, nearly 40% of them will be to exercise more and around 15% will be to eat better… both worthy health related goals. However, despite best intent, one study found that while 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half (46%) are still on target six months later.
Most people are aware that healthy behaviours have some general benefit, otherwise they wouldn’t be “healthy.” The real problem is translating the vague idea of lifestyle choices being “good” into practical (and realistic) recommendations.
Reframing your resolutions away from the idea of instant gratification (I will lose 5kg by March!) and towards a longer-term goal (I will live an extra 14 years!) may help give you the motivation you need to be one of the 54% that are still on track by June!
Recent studies have identified the key lifestyle habits that not only add years to your life, but life to your years. These are:
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be physically active
- Eat a balanced diet
- Drink alcohol in moderation
The combined impact of these healthy behaviours is an improvement in wellbeing and longevity, but each behaviour itself has a tangible positive impact on your health. The key is to start looking for ways to ensure these behaviours become part of your daily life.
Whether you have already made changes to your lifestyle, started off well but have slipped back into old habits, or haven’t decided yet on what to change, there is no better day of the year than today to start thinking of your long term health and how you’ll be spending all your extra years!
- Norcross JC, Mrykalo MS, Blagys MD. Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. J Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;58(4):397-405. doi: 10.1002/jclp.1151. PMID: 11920693.
- Li Y, Pan A, Wang DD, Liu X, Dhana K, Franco OH, Kaptoge S, Di Angelantonio E, Stampfer M, Willett WC, Hu FB. Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population. Circulation. 2018 Jul 24;138(4):345-355. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.032047. Erratum in: Circulation. 2018 Jul 24;138(4):e75. PMID: 29712712; PMCID: PMC6207481.