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These 5 Expert Tips Will Help You Start the New Year Healthy

Feel your best with good eats, great sleeps and cardio-boosting trips to the mall

Honey dipper and half a lemon rest on a wooden table

As the festive season wanes, many of us start making New Year’s resolutions—and prioritizing health often tops the list. We talked to Dr. Elan Panov, a resident at the University of Toronto, for tips on how to launch the year feeling your best.

A better diet starts with your plate

Salmon and vegetables served on a rectangular plate 

The ideal diet can vary from person to person. But a universal way to measure whether you’re on the right track to healthier eating is making sure you fill two-thirds of your plate with a colourful variety of vegetables.

Squeeze in a bit of exercise (even when the weather is dismal)

Woman stretching her leg outside in the winter on a bridge 

To keep health goals attainable and realistic, staying reasonably active should be part of your plan. While the common advice is to get in at least half an hour of moderate exercise daily, it can be challenging when it’s crummy outside. Instead, head to a mall for a walk to get your heart rate up or take your cardio a step further by seeking out a treadmill, elliptical or indoor bike machine.

Manage your sleep hygiene

Night stand with a lamp and plant next to an unmade bed 

Though everyone needs a different amount of sleep, the typical adult requirement is seven to eight hours a night. But the quality of sleep also matters, so make sure you’re using the right mattress and pillow height, and achieving quality REM cycles. Don’t watch TV in bed and avoid too much stimulation before drifting off. “Beds should be used for two things: sleeping and having sex,” Panov says.

Don’t skip checkups with your family doctor

A medical professional checks a patient's blood pressure 

Even if you’re proactively fitting in exercise and eating well, you should still visit your family doctor for a regular checkup. It’s important to have a record of your health to lean on in the future, and if you’re in your 40s and 50s, this is when the screening for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and long-term issues begins. Patients may not, for instance, see symptoms of high blood pressure. But doctors can flag it as a concern and help patients manage the condition, so it doesn’t lead to heart attacks later on.

Quit smoking right now

Woman snapping an orange filtered cigarette in half 

Giving up smoking has far-reaching health benefits, from cutting the risk of cancer and heart disease to improving exercise tolerance. “Big one: quit smoking,” Panov says. “Not judging anyone who smokes—I can imagine how hard it is to quit. But it’s one of the single most healthy things you can do for yourself.” Though it’s a daunting task, butting out helps prevent lung damage and extends life expectancy.

Looking for other healthy ideas?

Here are a few tips on getting clean air at home, plus a few ways you can reduce your household's plastic use with some clever substitutes.

If your 2019 plans include travel, find out whether you need a vaccination before you take off.

Image credit: iStock.com/Sezeryadigar