In 2019, Ask Your Doctor About Realistic Resolutions

By Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, St. George's University
January 16, 2019

Each January, millions of Americans pledge to eat healthier, exercise more, and focus on “self-care.”[1] But only 8 percent of people actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions, according to research from the University of Scranton.[2]

Primary care doctors are uniquely positioned to boost that percentage — by providing patients with effective health management techniques, identifying early signs of disease, and helping people develop healthy, lasting habits that improve overall well-being.

The motivation to adopt a healthier lifestyle often disappears within weeks. Gold’s Gym reports that traffic increases by upwards of 40 percent from December to January — but subsequently decreases in February.[3]

To keep patients on track all year long, physicians can offer a few simple pieces of advice.

First, people should set small goals that are easy to achieve — such as going to bed one hour earlier, taking a daily 15-minute walk, or cutting out soda.[4] These changes, while minor, can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.[5][6]

Second, folks shouldn’t go it alone. Teaming up with a friend, family member, or significant other on a mutual goal will make it harder to call it quits.[7] 

Third, not all resolutions have to involve signing up for a gym membership or changing eating habits. Being mindful about money and budgeting, spending more time with friends, or taking a few minutes each day to meditate are beneficial too.[8][9][10] 

At St. George’s University, nearly 75 percent of our graduates go into primary care specialties.[11] We make it a priority to provide them with a comprehensive medical education while they’re in the classroom — offering courses about physician-patient relationships, nutrition, and more — so they can help their future patients live healthier lives.[12][13] Our graduates understand the value of treating sickness and disease, but also guiding their patients to a healthy lifestyle through comprehensive preventive care techniques.

Plus, with healthcare costs increasing, preventive care is more important than ever before.[14] And collectively, our individual lifestyle decisions will determine the health of the entire population.

Making a New Year’s resolution can be tough — but it doesn’t have to be. By taking small steps and working with a primary care doctor, people can finally achieve their healthy-living goals.

 

[1] https://www.statista.com/chart/12386/the-most-common-new-years-resolutions-for-2018/

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/#6dd41d55596b

[3] https://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/gym-memberships-spike-and-then-sharply-decline-after-new-year/995033328

[4] https://woollymag.com/feelings/15-realistic-new-years-resolutions.html

[5] https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationship/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2

[6] https://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-a-livable-future/news-room/News-Releases/2015/Caramel-Color-in-Soft-Drinks-and-Exposure-to-4-Methylimidazole.html

[7] https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2010/12/making-your-resolutions-stick

[8] https://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_wires/2008Jun09/0,4675,StressingOverDebt,00.html

[9] https://www.happystartsathome.com/spend-more-time-with-friends-and-family-new-years-resolution/

[10] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-you/201412/why-my-new-year-s-resolution-is-meditate-every-day

[11] https://www.sgu.edu/academic-programs/school-of-medicine/graduate-success/

[12] https://www.sgu.edu/course-curriculum/bpm-502-basic-principles-of-medicine-3/

[13] https://www.sgu.edu/course-curriculum/bpm-501-basic-principles-medicine-ii/

[14] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-healthcare-spending/u-s-healthcare-spending-to-climb-5-3-percent-in-2018-agency-idUSKCN1FY2ZD

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