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Enforcing Healthy Resolutions

 Are you resolving to improve your health in the new year? The Early Show's Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay shares five simple steps you can take to succeed with that resolution.

1. Exercise: Fifty-five percent of the American population is overweight or obese so the No. 1 thing most Americans can do to improve their health in the next millennium is to get moving. The good news is that just a little bit of exercise can help a lot. Just 30 minutes, three to four days each week can reduce the risk for heart disease.

2. Diet: The best advice is to reduce calories and follow a low-fat diet. According to the American Heart Association, your total fat intake should be no more than 30 percent of total calories. What many people don't realize is that means your total fat intake for a week - not for each single food item.

3. Health checkups: Know your risk factors for major killers such as heart disease and stroke. They include the following risk factors:

Risk Factors

  • Cholesterol (both good and bad)
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar

This is also a good time to be sure you are up to date on matters such as immunizations.

Many people don't realize this but older people still need to get shots. Talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot every year and also a shot for pneumonia.

Fewer than 30 percent of Americans have had a pneumonia shot, given only once and protecting someone for life.

4. Quit smoking: For some people, going cold turkey is the answer. If you've tried that before and you didn't make it, studies have found the three-pronged approach to be very successful.

That method involves using the patch, an oral medication such as Zyban and counseling.

5. Reduce stress: This resolution is more important than one may think. New research has found that chronic stress can be deadly. It can harm the immune system, brain and heart.

While it's probably unrealistic to resolve to have a completely stress-free life, here are some stress-busting techniques that can be beneficial:

Stress Busters

  • EXERCISE: One study reported that participants felt less anxiety after 30 minutes on a treadmill.
  • MASSAGE: Join a support group or start to write in a diary. Expressing your feelings is key.
  • MEDITATION: Other relaxation exercises can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

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