The new year is a time of reflection for many. Most of us set New Year’s resolutions with goals to improve our health and wellness. With the average length of New Year’s resolutions lasting 21 days, we should set attainable and sustainable goals for improved health to last the entire year.
Start with the flu shot. If you have not received your flu vaccine for the 2019-20 flu season, you should do this now. January and February are peak months for influenza and influenza-like illnesses. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017-18, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.2 million influenza illnesses, 3.2 million influenza-associated medical visits, 91,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 5,700 influenza-associated deaths. Receiving the flu vaccine is an excellent way to protect yourself, your family and your close acquaintances during peak flu season.
Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. Children and adults should see their primary provider at least once a year for health maintenance. Before your appointment, make a list of questions for your provider on maintaining or improving your health. Make your primary provider aware of any concerns you have and know your family history. Knowing your family history plays a key role in unlocking your risk factors to many diseases, including cancer, heart disease or diabetes.
Also, be informed of appropriate cancer screening. While cancer screenings recommendations are based on age for patients with average risk factors, your primary care provider may recommend earlier screening based on your personal or family history.
The new year is an excellent time to quit smoking, chewing tobacco or vaping. Be mindful that just because it is a new year, does not make the process any easier. Quitting any form of nicotine is physically and mentally challenging. On average, it takes five to seven attempts to completely quit using nicotine products.
Do not give up entirely if you have a setback in quitting. Learn something from each attempt at quitting and apply what you learned to the next attempt. Discuss nicotine cessation with your primary provider to find what path best suits your individual needs. Nicotine replacement therapy is available in patch, gum and lozenge form.
Additional assistance is available through the West Virginia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Participants are eligible for up to eight weeks of free nicotine-replacement therapy.
Other popular New Year’s resolutions include eating healthier, exercising more and losing weight. While these are healthier choices to begin the new year, it is important to keep eating healthier and exercising more a top priority throughout the year.
The goal of losing weight can be more difficult. Before setting a weight-loss goal, know your ideal weight or body mass index (BMI). Begin with smaller, attainable goals for weight management. Focus on becoming healthier, rather than a specific number. If you have setbacks in your fitness, start over and do not be intimidated by the setbacks.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department wishes everyone a healthy and happy new year.