2021

A New Year’s resolution to take better care of yourself is one you should keep, especially in the era of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask, maintaining a safe distance from others and washing your hands frequently are going remain important in 2021. But don’t forget to prioritize a healthy lifestyle that improves your overall health and quality of life, and helps prevent cancer, according to experts at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

The institute offers the following tips:

Eat a healthy diet and watch your weight.

  • For cancer prevention, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society recommend maintaining a healthy weight, staying active and eating a healthy diet. That’s one rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans, with a minimum of red and processed meats, fast food and processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Cutting out alcohol lowers the risk of many cancers, including breast cancer.

Exercise regularly. It has many benefits for physical and mental well-being.

  • Current guidelines recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should also be included.
  • Sitting for a long time watching TV or using the computer is discouraged.
  • Find fun ways to stay active, such as online exercise classes, or walking or jogging in your neighborhood.

Quit smoking.

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. Quitting smoking will lower the risk for many cancers, including those of the lungs, mouth, throat, blood, bladder, esophagus, stomach, pancreas and kidneys.

Getting preventive care is an important step to manage your health.

  • This includes cancer screenings, which can detect cancer before it spreads.

More information

For more on a healthy lifestyle, head to the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE: Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, news release, Dec. 28, 2020

How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

If you find it difficult to keep New Year’s resolutions, try rephrasing them.

Reformulating a resolution from “I will quit/avoid” to “I will start to” could improve the chances of success, researchers in Sweden say.

They looked at more than 1,000 people who made resolutions at the end of 2017 and followed them for the next year.

Participants were divided into three groups that received different amounts of support throughout the year to keep their resolution: no support at all, some support and extended support.

“It was found that the support given to the participants did not make much of a difference when it came down to how well participants kept their resolutions throughout the year. What surprised us were the results on how to phrase your resolution,” said Per Carlbring, a psychology professor at Stockholm University.

Participants with an “approach goal” to their resolution — trying to adopt a new habit or introducing something new to their life — had the highest rate of success. Resolutions about avoiding or quitting something were less successful.

“For example, if your goal is to stop eating sweets in order to lose weight, you will most likely be more successful if you say ‘I will eat fruit several times a day’ instead. You then replace sweets with something healthier, which probably means you will lose weight and also keep your resolution,” Carlbring said in a university news release.

“You cannot erase a behavior, but you can replace it with something else. Although this might be harder to apply to the resolution ‘I will quit smoking,’ which is something you might do 20 times a day,” Carlbring added.

The study was published Dec. 9 in the journal PLOS ONE.

More information

The American Psychological Association offers tips on keeping New Year’s resolutions.

SOURCE: Stockholm University, news release, Dec. 9, 2020