Is having New Year resolutions a bad idea? Definitely not. The beginning of a new year is a very suitable time to ponder about life, reflect, plan and make important and necessary changes. For most people, however, making New Year resolutions has become more or less a yearly ritual. They make many resolutions but end up keeping to just a few, if any.
There are various reasons for people’s inability to keep to their resolutions. The fundamental ones, perhaps, are: (1) failure to make the right resolutions; and (2) failure to properly plan how to make success of the resolves. However, this piece is not about why resolutions fail, but why most people should consider having New Year resolutions concerning their health.
First, let me unequivocally state that people do not have to wait for the beginning of a new year to make healthy changes in their lifestyles. Leading a healthy lifestyle all through life should be the norm. In fact, it should be inculcated in every child from the cradle. Nevertheless, since the beginning of a new year always offers a good opportunity to pursue exciting new goals, it is an appropriate time to start taking important decisions concerning healthy living.
I attended a health symposium held at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, a couple of years ago and while chatting with one of the speakers, a physician, I asked him for the five important things Nigerians should be doing to consistently ensure they lead a healthy life. He told me what is needed is not a bizarre or big change. Those desirous of healthy living, he said, should be eating healthy foods, doing regular exercise (and be physically active every day), getting adequate rest/sleep, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.
It is axiomatic to say that these health tips are still very much relevant and can, indeed, form the kernel of our New Year health resolutions. The importance of eating healthy foods cannot be over-emphasised. By eating healthy foods, we can, among other things, lower the risk of developing certain diseases like cancer and diabetes; get protection from some infections; ensure we have healthy weight and consistently have the required energy to function well daily. Healthy eating for children also enhances their proper growth, good health status later on in life as well as enhancing their learning.
Nutritionists have said that natural, home cook foods, vegetables and fruits, are what the body needs and not super foods sold in eateries. Thus, the more Nigerians eat healthy foods the better their health status and quality of life will be.
It must also be emphasised that more Nigerians are leading sedentary lifestyles. Many people sit inactive for long hours, either glued to a television or computer screen or other modern information technology gadgets. This is not the way to go. The more physically active a person can manage to be, the better. Being physically active and engaging in regular exercise, experts have said, are sine qua non for a long, healthy life and the prevention of diseases like obesity, which are often triggered by sedentary lifestyle.
The importance of adequate rest and proper sleep can equally not be over-emphasised as the two are crucial to having and sustaining good mental and physical health, according to experts. It is possible to give excuses of having important deadlines and tasks that must be done to deprive the body of needed rest and sleep. However, with judicious time management and discipline, important tasks can be achieved without forfeiting the needed time for rest and good sleep.
I also urge those who smoke to quit the habit as it has been confirmed by experts to be not only unbeneficial but quite deleterious to both the smokers and those around him. Smoking is said to cause all sorts of cancers and other diseases.
The negative effect of ingesting too much alcohol on the body has also been well-documented. Research has confirmed alcoholism to be responsible for kidney failure, among other health hazards.
An equally important thing Nigerians should be doing is imbibing the habit of going for regular medical checks and not wait until they are bedridden before going to the hospital.
The beginning of this 2015 is the perfect time to kill bad health habits and commence good health habits. It is my belief that adopting healthy living changes as New Year resolutions can be quite beneficial both in the short and long term. It is the way to go.