By Linda Britton, MD, FACP
Every year, people in Tennessee make New Year’s resolutions, especially to improve their health and wealth. In fact, more than one-third (35 percent) of Americans plan to make health-related New Year’s resolutions this year, while a nearly equal number (34 percent) have vowed to improve their financial well-being, according to a new UnitedHealthcare survey.
What are the most common resolutions for 2019? Among people making health resolutions, 34 percent are planning to exercise more, 17 percent intend to eat a healthier diet and 15 percent hope to lose weight. When it comes to financial health, the most common resolutions include saving more (36 percent), paying off debt (20 percent) and increasing income (18 percent).
With that in mind, here are four tips to consider to help encourage a healthier lifestyle for 2019:
If you received a new gadget as a holiday gift, there are ways to use that technology to help achieve your resolutions. In fact, the UnitedHealthcare survey found that 53 percent of people making health resolutions plan to use technology to help achieve their goals, including a smartphone app (34 percent), activity tracker (27 percent) or virtual visit with a health care provider (10 percent). Technology can also help people more effectively navigate the health system: online resources now provide quality and cost information for healthcare providers and treatments in your local area, while some mobile apps can help people evaluate different care settings based on their symptoms, ranging from a virtual visit, primary care, urgent care or the ER.
Walk to Help Improve Health
If walking is how you plan to improve your fitness, there are some strategies to help make your workout more effective. Think FIT, which stands for frequency (500 steps within seven minutes six times per day), intensity (3,000 steps within 30 minutes each day) and tenacity (at least 10,000 total steps per day). If those targets seem daunting, remember to start slowly and build up over time. For added motivation, some employer-sponsored programs provide financial incentives by meeting walking goals.
Check Available Resources
Many employers (86 percent) offer wellness programs, with the average financial incentive exceeding $780 per year per employee, according to a recent survey. To determine if that applies to you, check with your health plan or employer to see what resources and incentives may be available, including telephonic wellness coaching, gym membership reimbursements, and smoking cessation. You might also have access to various health screenings – such as blood pressure, cholesterol and depression – and timely vaccines, such as the flu shot. Doing so may help you get or stay healthy.
Help Improve Your Oral and Vision Health
With growing evidence of a link between oral and vision health to overall health, as well as to an array of chronic medical conditions, it is important to take care of your teeth and eyes. In fact, 45 percent of Americans say improving their oral health ranks among their resolutions, including visiting the dentist once per year (12 percent), eating less sugary foods/candy (12 percent), and flossing at least once a day (11 percent). For people with certain chronic conditions, maintaining or improving oral health is especially important, while comprehensive eye exams can detect many diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and some types of cancer.
The New Year often brings optimism; however, for some Tennessee residents, resolutions can end in failure. Following these tips may help you achieve your resolutions and help you maintain your health for years to come.
Linda Britton, MD, FACP, is the Southeast Regional Vice President
and Senior Medical Director for UnitedHealthcare. For more information, go online to uhc.com