At this time of year, it's only natural to look back and reflect on the year that has been, as well as make plans going forward. We may even make a resolution or two.
I've historically never been one for resolutions, but last year I made a few and found it really helpful. It was actually amazing to see how small changes, made regularly and turned into habits, make a huge difference by the time New Year rolls around again. It even became my unofficial motto for the year: "It's better to be consistently good than occasionally brilliant"
A large study done a few years ago by The Kings Fund - a large, independent charity working to improve healthcare in England - found that over 80% of diseases and conditions here in the UK are either partially or entirely mediated by 3 lifestyle factors. Put another way - crack these 3 lifestyle habits, and 8 out of 10 premature diseases could simply pass you by.
And here are those 3 factors:
- Exercise - Adults should aim to take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Included in this, all adults should undertake muscle strengthening activity twice a week and minimise the amount of time spend sedentary for extended periods.
- Diet - Adults should aim to eat a diet with the right amount of calories (this is individual to you, but generally around 2000 Cal/day), with 40% of their food intake being fresh fruit and vegetables (not including potatoes), and choosing foods high in protein, fibre and EFAs (essential fatty acids) over foods high in processed sugar and salt.
- Exposure - Stopping smoking and reducing your alcohol intake to less than 14 units per week (this is now the same for men and women - new research showed the old limit of 21 units for men was too high)
These may sound like things we have all heard before. We're familiar with the health campaigns of "eat your 5 a day", "stoptober", "dry January", "move more".
But just take a moment to review that statistic that I shared earlier. Get these 3 things right, and you've lowered your risk factors for 80% of known health conditions.
In fact, even just implementing the exercise guidelines reduces all causes of mortality by nearly a third.
Just think about that.
So what New Year's Resolutions will you be making? What new healthy habits are you taking forward into 2022? Remember that a small change, done consistently, can snowball into big changes.
And don't be put off by the amount of time it will take to achieve your health goals. The time will pass anyway - the only question you need to ask yourself is "by next New Year's Eve, do I want to be as healthy as I am now, or healthier?"
Drop me a message and let me know your New Year's Resolutions! Wishing you a happy and healthy year!