Memorial Hermann’s Tips to Start the New Decade off on the Right Foot

By Drew Munhausen

Not only is it a new year, but it’s also a new decade! If you’re looking to start the decade off on the right foot with a series of resolutions, Memorial Hermann experts have some recommendations for goals, as well as tips on how to commit to them.

Get Your Annual Wellness Visits on the Calendar

Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Not only will this get your annual check-up out of the way early, but it will help you to know what screenings you’re due for. Whether it’s a mammogram or a colonoscopy, getting these appointments scheduled early in the year will make you less likely to procrastinate on getting them done as the year, and life in general, gets more hectic.

Establish Healthy Sleep Habits

Numerous studies have shown the impact of poor sleep on our health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults needing seven or more hours of sleep per night for the best health and wellbeing. However, the demands of work, family and balancing it all can leave many getting less than the recommended amount of sleep. Dr. Reeba Mathew, affiliated pulmonologist at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, recommends the following five tips you’ve probably not considered to help you establish healthy sleeping habits and fall asleep faster:

  1. Avoid napping during the day
  2. Exercise 2-3 hours prior to bedtime vs. right before bedtime.
  3. Keeping the bedroom temperature low is beneficial for sleep. Researchers recommend a temperature of 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit as best for initiating sleep.
  4. Avoid a heavy dinner just before bedtime.
  5. Keeping our bodies hydrated is important; however, limit water intake prior to bedtime to minimize restroom trips during the night.

Move More, Sit Less

In 2019, new exercise recommendations were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – the first time the Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans had been updated since 2008.

The changes focus on physical activity to promote wellness instead of weight loss. The benefits of physical activity can help people sleep, feel and function better, as well as reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Adults are recommended to complete 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, in addition to muscle-strengthening exercises, on two or more days per week.

Taylor Cole, a certified sports physical therapist with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute, has some suggestions for quick exercises that can be done anywhere – whether at home or in the office. These exercises include:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pushups
  • Mountain-Climbers
  • Jumping Jacks

For more information on the proper form of these exercises, visit Move More, Sit Less: New Exercise Guidelines for 2019.

Keep Your Phone Clean

Over the past ten years, smart phones have only become smarter and have evolved into an essential tool that most of us use daily. Your phone goes with you everywhere, and as such, cell phones are allegedly 10 times more dirty than a toilet seat. It’s safe to say that smart phones are as dirty as they are smart.

Typical disinfecting wipes can actually be abrasive to your phone and can cause lasting damage. The best way to clean your phone is with a microfiber cloth. For the deepest clean, combine the cloth with a cleaning solution comprised of 60 percent water and 40 percent rubbing alcohol. Doing this just a couple times a month can drastically reduce the risk of spreading bacteria and viruses.

Dietary Goals

Last decade saw a surge in ‘fad diets’ ranging from the infamous Keto Diet to other trends like intermittent fasting and the paleo diet. While some of these have been proven to help you lose weight, they may be hard to maintain or they could cut out food groups with necessary nutrients.

“If you choose to implement a new dietary goal or strategy, be consistent with it,” said Brett Singer, a sports dietician with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute. “It takes time for you to notice changes in performance, health and how you feel. If you eat more vegetables for a few meals, you may not notice a distinct difference, but stick with it long enough and you’ll see the benefits.”

Singer recommends including more fruits and vegetables in your normal routine. Start with a simple goal of including at least one fruit or vegetable in each meal, and then start to build from there. Fruits and vegetables have numerous health benefits so it’s important to experiment with different ways of including them in your meal.

“If you’re pairing your diet with a new exercise regime, try to consume at least 20 to 30 grams of protein in each meal,” said Singer. “This supports muscle growth, repair and overall health. Sticking with a consistent exercise program while including protein in each meal allows adults to improve and maintain strength.”

Setting Your Goals

The most important part of keeping up with your resolutions is to make sure you are setting specific, achievable goals. Vague goals like “trying to exercise more” or “losing some weight” aren’t going to give you proper motivation.

Instead, choose goals like losing one pound per week, or taking a 10-minute walk daily. It will be much easier to track progress and stick with it in the long run.

For more information on setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound), visit Here’s a SMART Way to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions.

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