The new year is an opportunity to make a new resolution. This resolution could be to have a healthier and more active lifestyle for most people. A healthy and active lifestyle is a long-term commitment with comprehensive health benefits for your body. A healthy lifestyle is a way of living that lowers the risk of being seriously ill or dying early. Not all diseases are preventable, but many deaths, particularly those from coronary heart disease and lung cancer, can be avoided. Health is not just about preventing disease but also about physical, mental, and social wellbeing. A more positive, healthy lifestyle role model will influence people, family, office, school, and children.
How do we start?
1. Stop smoking
Smoking is the most significant single self-imposed risk to the health of all. It can cause respiratory illness, coronary heart disease, cancer. Half of all people who regularly smoke will be killed by cigarettes, half in middle age and half in their senior years.1
Step action plan:
=> Monitor your current pattern of tobacco use – when do you use it and why?
=> Decide to give up tobacco now – whatever your age, it will lower your risk.
=> Choose alternative things to do when you are tempted to use tobacco.
=> Practice ways of saying “NO” to help you.
=> Ask your friends, family to give you support.
2. Get active
Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer. It also helps prevent hypertension, overweight, and obesity and improves mental health, quality of life, and well-being.2
Physical activity can and should be integrated into the settings where people live, work, and play. It is essential that adults can be physically active and less sedentary at work. Sedentary behavior is defined as any behavior characterized by and an energy expenditure ≤1,5 metabolic equivalents, such as: sitting, reclining, or lying down. Recent evidence indicates that high levels of continuous sedentary behavior (such as sitting for long periods) are associated with abnormal glucose metabolism and cardiometabolic morbidity, as well as overall mortality. Reducing sedentary behavior through the promotion of incidental physical activity (for example, standing, climbing stairs, short walks) can support individuals to increase their levels of physical activity incrementally towards achieving the recommended levels for optimal health.2
Step action plan:1
=> If you are not physically active, identify WHEN you could be more physically active and HOW. Examples: put more physical effort into housework, brisk walk, get off the bus or train one stop earlier, choose to climb the stairs rather than an elevator.
=> Set daily step target, Get more than 10000 steps/day.
=> Steps/day); and 5) ‘highly active’ (>12,500 steps/day)
=> Do exercise in moderate to vigorous intensity in the duration of a minimum of 150-300 minutes/week. The activities consist of aerobic exercise, strengthening exercise, stretching routine, and balance exercise for the elderly.
=> Determine your goals, find a workout that you love, and develop a plan and commitment.
=> Start slowly. Listen to your body: you are doing too much too soon if you experience dizziness, nausea, pain, and extreme tiredness.
3. Healthy eating
People are now consuming more foods high in energy, fats, free sugars, and salt/sodium. However, many people do not eat enough fruit, vegetables, and other dietary fiber such as whole grains.
A healthy diet helps protect against malnutrition in all its forms and noncommunicable diseases, including diabetes, heart dis-ease, stroke, and cancer.
Step action plan:
=> Eating at least 400 g of fruit and vegetables per day.3
=> Reducing the amount of total fat intake to less than 30% of total energy intake helps prevent unhealthy weight gain.3
=> Reducing saturated fat (fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, lard) to less than 10% of total energy intake.3
=> Reducing the use of trans fat (found in baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods, such as frozen pizza, pies, cookies, biscuits, wafers, and cooking oils and spreads ) to less than 1 % of total energy intake3
=> Replacing saturated fats and trans-fats with unsaturated fats (fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, soybean, canola, and olive oils).3
=> The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein for a healthy adult with minimal physical activity is currently 0.8 g protein per kg body weight (BW) per day. To meet the functional needs such as promoting skeletal-muscle protein accretion and physical strength, dietary intake of 1.0, 1.3, and 1.6 g protein per kg BW per day is recommended for individuals with minimal, moderate, and intense physical activity.4
=> Reducing salt intake to the recommended level of less than 5 g per day.3
=> Limiting the consumption of foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugars, such as sugary snacks, candies, and sugar-sweetened beverages (i.e., all types of beverages containing free sugars – these include carbonated or non‐carbonated soft drinks, fruit or vegetable juices and drinks, liquid and powder concentrates, flavored water, energy, and sports drinks, ready‐to‐drink tea, ready‐to‐drink coffee, and flavored milk drinks).3
Finally, improving your health in this new year is a big goal and should be taken seriously. A New Year’s resolution is a promise to change a few things in your life. It can be anything – stopping an undesirable habit permanently, doing something new and positive from the first day of the year, or accomplishing a goal. Focus on being persistent, make your goals specific and realistic and turn your resolutions into long-term habits. Happy new year, happy new you!
- World Health Organization. Healthy living. Who. 2015. p. 24.
- Organization WH. Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030: more active people for a healthier world. 2018.
- WHO. Healthy diet. 2020 [cited 2022 Jan 3]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet
- Wu G. Dietary protein intake and human health. Food Funct. 2016;7(3):1251–65.