Column: Healthy ways to start fresh

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Commentary by Jennifer Mardos, DO, IU Health Physicians Primary Care – Anson

As a new year reminds us, there are benefits to starting fresh. People often choose January to explore new ways of improving physical and mental health. If you’re officially making New Year’s resolutions – or just attempting to add healthy habits to your life – here are some tips.

Exercise – It’s not necessary to jump into a vigorous exercise program. In fact, you’ll gain benefits and be more likely to stick with an exercise plan if you start slow and gradually progress to longer, more intense workouts. As a starting point, aim for 15 to 20 minutes three to four times each week. Combining cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging or swimming, with light strength training works well for most people. In addition to improving heart health, managing weight and toning, exercise has other benefits. It helps decrease anxiety, boosts the immune system and facilitates better sleep.

Diet – Many New Year’s resolutions include changing eating habits. If you’re interested in trying something new, consider ways to add more fruits, vegetables and protein to your diet. Also try drinking more water. Among the many benefits, drinking water helps manage weight, promotes regularity and improves skin. Maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t mean eliminating all of your favorite foods. Moderation is key, so go ahead and enjoy an occasional dessert or special treat. Small indulgences can provide the boost you need to stay the course the majority of the time.

Anytime you try something new, be sure it adds something positive to your life. If it promotes physical health, makes you feel better about yourself or adds enjoyment to life, pursue it wholeheartedly. It’s also important to remember that minor setbacks will permanently derail your efforts only if you let them. Tomorrow’s a new day, offering another chance to begin again.

Jennifer Mardos, DO, specializes in family medicine and is guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Primary Care – Anson. She can be reached by calling 1.888.IUHEALTH. For more health information, subscribe to Strength In You at iuhealth.org/StrengthInYou.

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