As the New Year begins and my patients are getting back into their routines, I’ve heard a number of healthy living resolutions for 2014. From cutting out junk food to making it to the gym every morning, my patients are focused on living their most healthy 2014. Resolutions can be difficult to stick to, but I wanted to show you five easy ways to change your habits for a happier and healthier new year.
- Sit tall.Whether you’re sitting at your desk, on a plane, or in the car, proper posture can help reduce strain on your back and minimize unnecessary pain. How do you check for proper posture? With your buttocks at the back of the chair and weight evenly distributed between both hips, sit tall and relax your shoulders. If needed, get a “lumbar support” type pillow for your chair. Set a timer to check in on your posture every thirty minutes, as slouching and poor posture can sneak up on you.
- Take ten. Many friends and patients have resolved to exercise more this year. As a doctor, I know well the benefits that exercise can have , especially how strengthening your core can improve spine health. But I also know how difficult it can be to find the time. A recent studyby the American College of Sports Medicine shows that just 10 minutes of exercise at a time can improve your well-being and increase weight loss.
- Reduce stress. Stress has been shown to causelower back pain and contribute to a myriad of health problems. It could even worsen the pain from existing conditions. Taking a few minutes to meditate or practice deep, conscious breathing can help reduce stress . Physical exercise, or getting outside for a brisk walk and some fresh air is also helpful.
- Get moving. While many jobs require sitting at desks, it’s now well known that staying seated for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health. Try taking a few minutes to run out and grab a healthy lunch or consider walking to your colleague’s office instead of emailing or using the phone.
- Visit a physician. If you are experiencing pain or have a health concern, make this the year you visit your physician to talk about it. Even if you’re feeling well, be sure to schedule your annual check-up and physical. In 2014, many health issues can be detected in the early stages and treated before they become problematic. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!