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New Year’s Resolutions Doctors Wish Their Patients Would Make

2020 was tough. But, the new year brings about a renewed sense of hope and potential. At the start of every year, people make resolutions to improve from the year prior. This year, we talked to a family medicine physician and a pediatrician to find out what resolutions they wish their patients would make for 2021. Here’s what they said.

Be Realistic About Diet and Exercise

Dr. John Russell, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Abington – Jefferson Health, wants his patients to set realistic goals for diet and exercise this year. “It’s been a really hard year emotionally, which means many people have gotten away from healthy diet and exercise habits,” says Dr. Russell. “Instead of setting a crazy goal for yourself, start small. Look at the labels on foods that you eat, pay attention to what you’re putting into your body and try to increase the amount of time you’re exercising each week.”

Dr. Russell says sticking to a calorie goal is essential. To calculate your ideal calorie intake, take a look at your current weight. You should be eating about 10 calories for each pound that you weigh. Additionally, try to stick to whole foods instead of processed and packaged foods to get the most nutritional value out of your meals.

A good goal for exercise is 150 minutes per week. This can be broken down into whatever routine fits your schedule, whether it’s 30 minutes on most days or about an hour for three days a week. If you’re new to exercising, start slow. Incorporate walking, gentle yoga or bodyweight exercises into your routine before picking up weights or going for a long-distance run.

Safely Reconnect With Your Loved Ones

Dr. Steven Shapiro, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Abington – Jefferson Health, hopes to see families begin to reconnect—in a socially responsible way—as the stress of the pandemic subsides. “My hope for 2021 is that parents recognize the stress that they and their children, no matter their age, endured over the last 10 months,” he says. “The relief we are beginning to feel as these brilliant and safe COVID-19 vaccines become available is a sign that parents and children can begin to unwind from the tension and hypervigilance in which they have been immersed.”

While we’re still following guidelines of social distancing, mask-wearing and staying home whenever possible, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. This year, families should focus on what the future holds. “We will see families begin to reconnect safely under direction from our leaders, and I hope that we can again feel the power of a good, old-fashioned hug,” says Dr. Shapiro.

Continue to Follow Health Guidelines

No matter what your goals are for 2021, it’s important that we continue to follow the COVID-19 preventive guidelines for our safety and also that of our healthcare professionals. Although the vaccine is being distributed and the future is bright, we cannot let our guard down in terms of social distancing, handwashing and mask-wearing. That is why the next few months are perfect for hunkering down and taking steps towards your New Year’s resolutions—like cooking healthy food for your family, building up your at-home gym or incorporating more mindfulness into your daily routine.

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