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Lifestyle

9 easy, health resolutions that you can keep

It’s not too late to start a successful New Year's Resolution.

Set yourself overly-ambitious New Year's Resolutions and you’re likely to fail. This year, aim for progress not perfection as the best healthy changes are those that you can keep for life.

1. Give up one-mile car journeys and walk instead

“The car-free diet is a very successful weight-loss strategy. And much better than going carb-free,” says nutritionist and weight-loss specialist Wendy Shillam. Additionally, The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California found that brisk walking – a mile in 15-16 minutes – can be effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and dementia.

2. Get out in nature 

Numerous studies show that a walk in the woods will reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And research by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London found that just hearing birdsong can boost mental well-being for four hours or more.

3. Move more

Sitting is the new smoking – the body wasn't built for spending hours at a desk or in front of the TV. It increases your risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and breast, colon and colorectal cancer. Exercise physiologist and director of Absolute Studios Luke Meessmann recommends the Pomodoro method to break up desk time. “Set a timer to break each hour into two 25-minute blocks separated by two five-minute breaks. Work intently during the work periods and move about during the breaks,” says Luke. So stand up, do a quarter squat, do some rotations or just go for a walk round the office. “You maximise focus and keep the body healthy. It's win-win,” Luke says.

4. Get good sleep

Being sleep deprived can negatively affect your mental and physical health. It can even make you prone to major illnesses, from obesity to depression. Scaling down screen time before bed, sleeping in a cool room and going to bed at the same time each evening all help with a good night's rest. Apps such as Sleep Cycle can help you pinpoint any issues and help you to improve your sleep. For more tips, see our article on how to improve your sleep.

5. Eat regularly, particularly breakfast 

A breakfast that contains protein is ideal. Wendy says: “Protein should always be the main event of a meal because it’s the nutrient that we store least efficiently.” Start the day with a milkshake made with fruit, rolled oats and ground linseeds. Or why not try a boiled egg, home-mixed muesli, or fresh apple and yoghurt. “Forget white toast, which are low in nutrients,” says Wendy.

6. Use a foam roller

After exercising, rest your body weight on it and stretch out any areas that feel tight. And make time to stretch. Dynamic stretching can help improve flexibility and range of movement, and decrease the risk of injury. “These things are simply not done enough in my opinion. And both are crucial to keeping your body healthy,” says Luke.

7. Make food more fun

Cook and eat something new every week. “As well as vitamins and minerals, there are hundreds of micronutrients known as phytochemicals in food. Eating a wide variety of food is an easy way of ensuring we get a good nutritional mix,” says Wendy. If you're looking to shake things up, why not try one of our exclusive recipes from Deliciously Ella and Tom Kerridge, for aloo gobi and Thai chick green curry.

8. Drink plenty of water 

Especially after exercising. “I know it's written about and spoken about ad nauseum. But, I believe people still aren't drinking enough, so it bears repeating,” says Luke. Learn how much water you really need to drink here.

9. Plan meals

A focused food shopping list cuts calories and waste, and saves money, as you only buy what you need (and throw nothing away).