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New Year’s Resolutions Doctors Wish Their Patients Would Make

2021 was another tough year. But, the new year brings about a renewed sense of hope and potential. At the start of every year, many people make resolutions to improve their habits and behaviors from the prior year. This year, we talked to a family medicine physician and a pediatrician to find out what resolutions they wish their patients would make for 2022. Here’s what they said.

Be Realistic About Diet and Exercise

John Russell, MD, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Jefferson Health - Abington, wants his patients to set realistic goals for diet and exercise this year. “It’s been another 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 heavy weights or going for a long-distance run.

Be Attentive to the Children in Your Life

Steven Shapiro, DO, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Jefferson Health - Abington, says, “While in many ways it feels the same, and there is a constant tension surrounding COVID-19 exposure, we are in a much different place. We've learned and pivoted as medical professionals to give proper advice. Nothing is more uplifting than to see our schools open. 

“Our children are great examples of how diligent we should be with our social distancing and mask wearing. Schools are not the ‘spreader’ environments that we worried about initially, because our children are following their teachers and the rules so carefully.”  

The plan for future protection is evolving, says Dr. Shapiro. “COVID 19 will be around indefinitely and will eventually join the list of other viruses that we protect our children and ourselves from regularly.”

Dr. Shapiro acknowledges that everyone’s patience is drawn thin.  Work, school and social schedules are subject to change and still a challenge.  However, he recommends being attentive to the children in your life and “gleaning from their innocence the joy of just being together.”

Continue to Follow Health Guidelines

No matter what your goals are for 2022, 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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