Healthy New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep

It’s that time when most of us make New Year’s resolutions. They usually include intentions to lead healthier lives. Be advised: Your 2022 resolutions will likely get challenged. For a better chance at long-term success, don’t get too complicated.

Oftentimes, wellness resolutions are so restrictive and unsustainable they’re broken in February. (That’s why many people make the same resolutions year after year.) To break that cycle, make healthy resolutions that can be followed for the long term.

Make commitments you are more likely to stay with.

Here are 10 sustainable resolutions for feeling better from John Ruelas, M.D., a Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s North Channel Clinic, that have the added benefit of reducing your risk for developing cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and several forms of cancer.

  1. Exercise. You don’t have to join a gym. Taking brisk 30-minute walks most days of the week can help lower blood pressure, control weight gain, and lift your spirits. Try an exercise app like 7-minute exercise app.
  2. Forage for fiber. A high-fiber diet helps lower your risk for certain gastrointestinal disorders. Studies suggest that eating 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day may help avert an initial occurrence of colorectal cancer. Fiber is found in most whole grains, fresh fruits, and leafy green vegetables, as well as old-fashioned oatmeal. You can consider trying over-the-counter fiber supplements to help improve digestive health.
  3. Cut back on alcohol. Imbibing too much and too often can negatively affect your health goals. Try to limit drinking alcohol to weekend social events. If you need a nonalcoholic beverage idea to replace your usual cocktail of choice, try fruit-infused sparkling water. And remember, alcoholism can detrimentally interfere with your job performance, relationships, and family life. Drink no more than three alcoholic beverages on any occasion. (If doable, abstain altogether.)
  4. Water, water everywhere. Drink six to eight glasses each day. Water helps lubricate joints, deliver oxygen throughout the body, and slow the skin’s aging.
  5. Get adequate sleep. You don’t have to be Rip Van Winkle. Healthy adults usually need about seven hours a night. Added benefit: Sleep boosts alertness on the job and reduces your risk of causing a car accident. (Look up sleep hygiene for helpful sleep tips.)
  6. Put a lid on sugar. Sugar produces empty calories and can generate energy highs and lows throughout your day.
  7. Shake the salt habit. Sodium contributes to hypertension, which can increase your risk for a heart attack and stroke.
  8. Wear sunscreen. Apply sun protection with an SPF of 30 or higher on exposed skin when outdoors. Sunglasses are a good idea, too.
  9. Quit using nicotine in any form. The health dangers are well known. This tip should be a no-brainer. Try calling the Texas Tobacco Quitline at 1-877-YES-QUIT or visit  yesquit.org to help kick this health-snatching habit.
  10. Choose a primary care physician. Maintaining a good doctor-patient relationship incentivizes you to have regular physical exams, stay current on immunizations, and be more informed about your health.

“It’s true that most New Year’s resolutions are kept for a relatively short period. However, I believe the healthy resolutions listed above are sustainable ways to improve your physical and emotional health for the new years to come,” Dr. Ruelas concludes.

To schedule an appointment with a Kelsey-Seybold physician, call 713-442-0000.

JOHN RUELAS, M.D.
Family Medicine
Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – North Channel