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Health Deptartment presents the top eight for - New year's resolutions for a healthier life.

January 04, 2008

NEW YORK CITY: Each year as the ball drops, New Yorkers resolve to improve their lives and their health by carrying out New Year's resolutions. The right resolution, properly observed, could save your life. So, in the spirit of the season, the Health Department's doctors and other specialists offer eight resolutions to make in '08.

1. Quit Smoking.

"Make 2008 the year you quit for good," says Sarah Perl, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Tobacco Control. "Set a quit date now and stick to it. Tell family and friends that you need their help. Consider using medication, which can double or triple your chances of quitting successfully."

If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do for your health and the health of your family - smoking causes breast, lung, and mouth cancer, as well as stroke and heart disease. After just 24 hours of being tobacco free, your chances of having a heart attack drop. And in 30 days, your lung function improves.

Find more information and tips on quitting here. 
New Yorkers looking to obtain free nicotine patches can visit the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan on January 3rd and 4th from 12:00PM to 6:00PM or the Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn anytime between January 7th and January 11th from 11:00AM-5:00PM.

2. Get to the Doctor.

"Don't wait until you're sick to make an appointment," says Dr. Lynn Silver, Assistant Commissioner for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control. "Getting checked for cancer and making sure your blood pressure and cholesterol are under control can prevent serious health problems before they start. If you don't have a regular doctor, get one through your health plan - and if you don't have a health plan call 311 to find out what insurance is available for you and your family."

New Yorkers who have a regular doctor are more likely to have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked and get Pap tests, mammograms and colon cancer screenings. People with doctors are also more likely to seek care and get advice on sensitive issues, such as sexual health and alcohol and drug use.

To keep track of your care, use this personal prevention record.

3. Lose Weight

"You can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke this year by working toward a healthy weight," says Dr. Shadi Chamany, Director of Diabetes Prevention and Control. "Losing even a few pounds will make a difference. Set reasonable goals like aiming to lose 1 pound a week, avoiding fad diets and watching what you drink! Just one less soda or other sugar-sweetened drink a day can help you lose several pounds over a year."

Being overweight, even during childhood, can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and depression. Most adults need about 1,800-2,000 calories each day. Burn more calories than you eat and pounds will melt away. For more tips on how to lose weight, read the Health Department's bulletin

4. Get More Exercise

"To help you get moving, choose one fun activity and one realistic lifestyle change," says Cathy Nonas, Director of the Physical Activity and Nutrition Program. "For example, choose an activity you enjoy, like basketball or dancing, and do it more often! A quick and easy lifestyle change is to get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way, or to take stairs instead of elevators when possible. Small steps add up, especially when you do them every day."

Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate, physical activity (such as a brisk walk) at least five days a week is the goal. Physical activity lowers your chances of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

Find more information and tips about exercise here.

5. Eat Right

"To get your new year off to the right start, keep a food diary for a few days to see what you are really eating," says Sabrina Baronberg, Deputy Director for Physical Activity and Nutrition "Then try making some simple changes like switching from soda to seltzer or having an apple or orange instead of a bag of chips. Sometimes healthy eating can seem complicated, but the basics are simple: eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Stay away from processed foods and the added sugars in soda, sweetened teas, and fruit drinks."

6. Drink in Moderation

"Holiday drinking often makes people take a good look at whether their habits are healthy," says Daliah Heller, Assistant Commissioner for Chemical Dependency. "If you have ever thought you should cut down, been annoyed when someone asked you to stop, felt guilty about drinking, or needed a 'wake-up' drink, you may have a problem. Cutting down or quitting is possible. Talk to your doctor, go to an AA meeting or call 311 and ask for Lifenet to get help."

Unhealthy drinking can lead to deadly accidents and acts of violence in the short term, and cirrhosis, cancers, and hepatitis in the long term - not to mention jeopardizing work, finances, and relationships. Men should not have more than four drinks on one occasion or more than 2 a day on average. Women and older adults should not have more then three drinks at once or more than one a day on average.

Learn whether you may have a drinking problem here.

7. Reduce Stress

"Stress is part of life, but there are lots of ways to manage it," says Trish Marsik, Assistant Commissioner for Mental Health. "Whatever the cause, there are things you can do to feel more in control. Try to avoid unnecessary stress, if possible, and regain control by altering stressful situations or changing expectations. Healthy ways to reduce stress can include getting more sleep, exercising, scheduling some time each day to relax or plan, listening to music, or making the time to talk with a supportive friend. And if you are feeling out of control, you can call 311 and ask for Lifenet to get help."

Besides reducing your quality of life, stress can lead to high blood pressure and many other health problems. Find more information on identifying stress, and coping with it here.

8. Get Ready for an Emergency

"Sometimes you have to think about the unthinkable," says Marisa Raphael, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Emergency Management. "Whether it's a hurricane or an explosion, being prepared in advance will help keep you and your family safe in 2008. Make a plan for your family, put together a supply kit for your home, and get a "go bag" together in case you need to leave."

Find more information on preparing for an emergency here.