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Tuesday
Jan042011

Five Health Goals for 2011 and How to Meet Them

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nothing gets you thinking about health quite like a month of excess. As the holiday haze clears, New Year's resolutions come into focus. But for many, January's motivation dwindles by March -- if not sooner.

Because the start of a new year is a great time to think about breaking bad habits and starting fresh, ABC News asked health experts to share some healthy resolutions and tips on how to see them through.

Lose Weight

The key to losing weight, and not January's enthusiasm, is to set realistic short-term goals, according to Lisa Cimperman, a registered dietician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

"There's a lot that goes on between losing that first pound and losing that 100, 50 or even 20 pounds," Cimperman said. Aiming to lose one to two pounds per week can help you stay on track and power through the inevitable weight loss lulls.

Eat Better

Bringing a lunch to work every day is a great resolution, Cimperman said. Not only can it save you money, but it will force you to eat healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, that you might not eat given the choice.

Quit Smoking

Out of 100 people who make the resolution to quit smoking, only three will succeed. But with help that number can increase to 25, according to Dr. Frank Leone, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program.

"Generally people who get help, either in the form of counseling or nicotine replacement, preferably both, actually improve their odds of stopping smoking successfully, long-term, pretty dramatically," Leone said.

"The easiest way to get some professional advice on how to quit is to call the national quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW," Leone said.

Exercise

Digging up the motivation to exercise can be hard in the winter months. Shorter days and cooler temperatures (not to mention sidewalks full of snow) make it hard to get out for a run. Buying a gym membership can give you the financial incentive and the indoor space to work out, but it only works if you use it.

But you don't need a gym membership to get in shape, Cimperman stressed. Running up and down the stairs in your house or apartment building or at work is a great workout. And workout DVDs, even YouTube videos, can also offer some fitness solutions on the cheap.

Walking to work or choosing the stairs over the elevator can help you burn a few extra calories each day. But to get the real health benefits of exercise, your heart rate needs a hike, according to Dr. Shukri David, Chief of Cardiology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan.

"You ideally want to increase your heart rate to 85 percent of what we call target, which is 220 minus your age," David said. That's 160 for a 40-year-old. And sustaining that increased heart rate for 15-30 minutes each day will benefit your whole body.

Prevention

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. So it's important to know your risk factors and your numbers, Providence Hospital's David said.

Genetics play an important part in determining your risk, so knowing your family history is an important first step. But other modifiable factors, such as smoking, being overweight, and having diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol also increase your risk.

"You can't choose your parents, but you can certainly get your blood pressure down, you can get your blood sugar down with diabetes, you can normalize your cholesterol levels, you can stop smoking, and you can lose weight," David said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio