This is the time of year 40 to 45 percent of Americans will make at least one New Year’s resolution, and a University of Scranton study shows that of those who make resolutions, almost half attain their goals within six months.
The survey showed 75 percent of people who made resolutions stuck to them for at least a week. Sixty-four percent lasted a month. Forty-six percent of those who made resolutions kept them for six months or more.
The most common New Year’s goals are health related: losing weight, exercising more, eating better and quitting smoking. To help people get on the road to health in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health offer a few suggestions.
"Set realistic expectations. Lifestyle changes don’t have to happen overnight," said DHHS Public Health deputy director Barbara Howe. "Make small changes to your daily routine like climbing the stairs rather than taking the elevator or parking your car a few more blocks from the office."
The CDC says for optimal health benefits, adults should get at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week and do exercises to strengthen the major muscle groups - legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms - at least two days a week.
"Just 10 minutes of moderate activity three times a day improves heart health and helps reduce stress," Howe said. "You’ll likely have a more positive attitude and will feel better, too."
Setting health goals can have financial advantages, as well. For example, riding your bike to work will have health benefits, but can also save you money.
"Making a grocery list will likely encourage you to make healthier food choices and will discourage impulse buying," Howe said. "You can improve your health and finances."
The CDPH recommends adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet and cutting down on sodium.
"In addition to making half your plate fruits and vegetables, vow to incorporate more whole grains and to reduce sodium by eating fewer processed foods and drinking fewer sugary drinks like sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened teas and coffees," said CDPH director and state public health officer Dr. Ron Chapman.
If you’re ready to quit smoking, talk to your doctor or health care provider about quitting, says the CDC. Free help to quit is available by calling the California Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS or visiting NoButts.org.
According to the CDPH, most people try several times before they quit for good.
While these may be the most common goals, Peter Kanaris, coordinator of public education for the New York State Psychological Association, has another resolution you might consider - travel, even short distances.
"The joys and rewards of vacations can last long after the suitcase is put away," said Kanaris. "We can often get stuck in a rut and we can’t get out of our own way. Everything becomes familiar and too routine."
But, he says traveling offers adventure and people can make changes in their lives without having to do anything too bold.
"It makes you feel rejuvenated and replenished," said Kanaris. "It gets you out of your typical scenery and the effects are revitalizing. It’s a form of new discovery and learning and great for the body and the soul."