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With the new year approaching, the American Medical Association (AMA) is offering 10 recommendations to help Americans make the most impactful, long-lasting improvements to their health in 2020 and beyond.
“A new year is the perfect time to consider your personal goals, and how you can make positive health choices in the coming year,” says AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. “Small lifestyle changes today can have a lasting effect in improving your health.”
The AMA’s 10 recommendations for a healthier new year, include the following:
1. Make sure your family is up-to-date on their vaccines—including the annual influenza vaccine for everyone age six months or older and the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone age five and older. Anyone with questions about the COVID-19 vaccines should speak with their physician and review trusted resources, including getvaccineanswers.org. Following evidence-based public health measures, such as physical distancing and wearing face masks, is also vitally important to help protect against COVID-19.
2. Learn your risk for type 2 diabetes—take a simple online 2-minute self-screening test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. Steps you take now can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcomes, including hospitalization or death.
3. Know your blood pressure numbers—visit ManageYourBP.org to better understand your numbers and take necessary steps to get high blood pressure — also known as hypertension — under control. Doing so will reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
4. Manage stress—a good diet, sufficient sleep (at least 7.5 hours per night), daily exercise and wellness activities, such as yoga and meditation, are key ingredients to maintaining and improving your mental health, but don’t hesitate to ask for help from a mental health professional when you need it.
5. Be more physically active—adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.7
6. Reduce your intake of processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar—eat less red meat and processed meats, and add more plant-based foods, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds to your diet. Also reduce your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and drink more water instead. Drinking sugary beverages, even 100% fruit juices, is associated with a higher all-cause mortality risk, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.
7. If a health care professional determines that you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed—antibiotic resistance is a serious public health problem and antibiotics will not make you feel better if you have a virus, such as a cold or flu.
8. If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
9. Talk with your doctor about tobacco and e-cigarette use (or vaping) and how to quit—declare your home and car smoke- and aerosol-free to eliminate secondhand exposure.
10. Pain medication is personal—if you are taking prescription opioids or other medications, follow your doctor’s instructions, store them safely to prevent diversion or misuse, and properly dispose of any leftover medication.
The AMA also encourages everyone who is eligible to visit healthcare.gov to sign up for health coverage, which includes recent changes that improve access and affordability. The deadline to enroll for 2022 coverage is Jan. 15, 2022. More health resources and tips can be found by visiting ama-assn.org.
The AMA is committed to improving the health of the nation by leading the charge to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The AMA will continue its efforts aimed at helping the U.S. achieve no new preventable cases of type 2 diabetes and helping all adults meet their blood pressure goals to ensure patients live richer and fuller lives.