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Healthy Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/2/2008 | Fitness
Exercise more and stick to your diet. Weren't those the same resolutions you made last year? And aren't you 10 pounds heavier and more out of shape than ever? Odds are that you set unrealistic goals. Don't give up; focus instead on goals that are more attainable and much less overwhelming.

1. Don't eliminate entire food groups.
Giving up sugary foods or eliminating all carbs from your diet may help you lose weight, but such goals are nearly impossible to stick to long-term. Instead, just limit your intake.

2. Take a multivitamin - and women, add calcium.
For an easy, inexpensive bit of dietary insurance, take a multivitamin every day.

And if you're a woman, add a calcium supplement, too. If you're between the ages of 19 and 49, you need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. If you are 50 years of age or over, increase the amount to about 1,200. It's an easy way to prevent osteoporosis and other bone problems that plague women as they age.

3. Add just one more serving of fruits or vegetables every day.
Most of us struggle to get 5 servings, yet health experts recommend upping our intake to get 9 to 13 servings daily. There's no way most of us are going to double our intake of any type of food (well, maybe chocolate). So set a goal of adding just one serving a day. And when that becomes a habit, add another.

4. See the doctor annually.
If you're feeling okay, it's very tempting to pass up having an annual physical. Who has the time, right? But many health concerns can be caught before they become health problems if you get the recommended age-specific and gender-specific checkups.

For most women, that means having a Pap smear and breast evaluation done annually. Pap smear screenings check for cervical cancer, which is highly treatable if caught early.

Both men and women should have their blood pressure checked annually, since high blood pressure is much more common than most people realize. Because you don't feel any symptoms, your heart and other vital organs can be negatively affected for years if you don't have this simple screening.

Men and women over 50 should talk to their doctors about having some sort of screening for colon cancer too, another common cancer that is much easier to treat if detected early.

Talk to your physician about other screenings you might need, based on your age, gender and family history.

5. Add more exercise.
Much like doubling your intake of fruits and veggies, doubling (or more!) your exercise on a daily basis is so unrealistic as to be laughable. If you're a couch potato now, don't set a goal of running 4 miles a day.

Instead, add minor amounts of exercise that add up. Take the stairs. Park further away. Instead of telling yourself you'll walk for an hour, walk for 10 minutes. Almost anyone can fit that amount of exercise into their day, even into their lunch hour. And experts say that 3, 10-minute exercise sessions daily would do most of us a world of good.