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New Year Brings Old Resolutions

January 5, 2006
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Was that drink your last? And no more chocolates, unless, of course, they are dark ones, and substantiated as healthy for the heart. Isn't that what was proved in the latest study?

Wait - cheese hoagies have cholesterol? And here "they" told us cheese was part of the dairy segment of the food pyramid.

Or is it a food rectangle?

Making resolutions is confusing enough when a New Year brings news reports and scientific data that seem to upend old notions and ideas.

If you're like the majority of Americans, health concerns top of your list of New Year's resolutions. While resolving to achieve an approved weight, better nutrition or more physical activity are important, don't overlook equally vital lifestyle resolutions.

"The start of another year provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months, and look ahead to changes we can make today to improve our health tomorrow," says J. Edward Hill, M.D., president of the American Medical Association.

"It's important that we develop positive lifestyle habits that we can work on in 2006 and carry with us throughout our lives."

The AMA offers the following lifestyle resolutions for 2006:

• Make healthy lifestyle choices. With so many Americans concerned about being overweight or obese, it is more important than ever to make lifestyle choices that will enhance the quality of life. Healthy living includes daily exercise, a well-balanced diet, plenty of sleep, and staying away from tobacco and excessive drinking.

Before beginning any new exercise program, it is a good idea to consult your physician.

• Prepare for a disaster situation in advance.In light of the events of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the AMA encourages families to take the necessary steps to respond to an emergency. Develop a family communication plan for how you will get in touch with your family members.

Create an emergency-supply kit and store it in a safe, dry place. Be sure to include a list of important family health information and documents, such as copies of family immunization and health records; a list of prescriptions and dosages; and the style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers.

• Develop an advance directive with family members. The Terri Schiavo case spurred a national dialogue on end-of-life-care planning. The AMA encourages everyone to write a living will, appoint a durable power of attorney for health care, and discuss wishes with family members or a designated caretaker.

Doctors can help with these important decisions as patients grapple with this difficult topic. People should talk to their physician, and use the health-care community as a resource to help make educated decisions for the future.

• Medicare prescription-drug plan; learn your options. Medicare is taking an important step forward by offering a prescription-drug benefit for the first time. If you or someone you love is in the Medicare program, the AMA encourages you to educate yourself about this new benefit.

Take time to sit down with your family member to review the most applicable prescription-drug options for your healthy lifestyle.

• Practice common-sense prevention in light of flu concerns. Because of some intense flu outbreaks over the past few years, Americans are encouraged to remain informed and take common-sense steps to stay healthy. Everyone can take sensible steps to prepare for the current annual flu season, which can potentially provide added protection against pandemic flu.

Typically, influenza does not peak in the United States until February, so check with your doctor to get the annual flu vaccine. To avoid germs that cause the flu, wash your hands often, and avoid touching your nose and mouth with your hands. Use hand sanitizer whenever possible. If sick, cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue - and dispose of it.

A happy and healthy 2006!

To learn more,visit: www. ama-assn.org.

This article was prepared in cooperation with ARA Content.

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