By Polly Keary, Editor
Experts warn that New Years resolutions are not really a very good idea, as they tend to fail for a number of reasons. It seems that people tend to make too many of them or make unrealistically rigorous resolutions, dooming the efforts before they’ve begun.
So rather than make resolutions, I decided to just remain aware of some facts, in hopes they might motivate me this year. Here are some of those facts.
1. Sitting down too much can undo all the health effects you get from exercising. A study of more than 220,000 people 45 and older who spend 11 hours a day seated showed they had a 40 percent higher risk of dying within three years than those who regularly stand. Exercise didn’t seem to offset the risk of sitting hours at a time.
2. Eight hours of sleep is more important that you think. People who don’t get enough sleep gain weight, get sick and are prone to higher blood pressure than those who get eight hours per night. Lack of sleep also leads to reduced cognitive function and depression.
3. Exercise is incredibly good for you. Exercise can help you lose weight, sure. But that’s just where the benefits begin. It has been shown to be as effective as prescription antidepressants in the treatment of mood disorders. It can reverse the physical toll of stress. It improves the ability to learn new things. And it can significantly reduce the chances of getting a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease.
In fact, if researchers ever formulated a pill that reduced the risk of cancer by as much as 30 percent, increased longevity, reduced weight and blood pressure, regulated blood sugar, reduced stress, increased energy levels, improved people’s mood and even helped them sleep better, those researchers would soon be richer than Bill Gates ever dreamed of being. Exercise does all that, and it’s free.
4. You still need eight glasses of water a day. Even moderate dehydration can lead to depression. Drinking enough water, about eight cups a day, improves skin, digestion and energy levels, too. And it can help improve mental clarity, as well.
5. Sugar, at least as much as most people eat, is really, really not good for you. There’s apparently a link between sugar and elevated blood fats. Too much sugar easily leads to weight gain, which easily leads to diabetes. Sudden spikes in blood sugar cause insulin spikes, which can depress the immune system. It’s murder on teeth. And while the jury is out on whether sugar is actually physically addictive, it certainly leads to compulsive consumption of it.
Most people consume about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day; doctors recommend just six. A fair number of people, including many obese kids, get between 1,000 and 2,000 calories a day just from soft drinks, and all those calories are from sugar.
With those five things in mind, it would seem wise to get more sleep, eat less sugar, exercise more, drink more water and stand up more at work.
Those might seem like no-brainers, but few enough are the people who live by the advice of experts. This year, rather than resolve to do all of those recommended things in certain measure, I just resolve to remember why I should do them. I hope it serves to motivate me where a resolution list might not.
Happy New Year!