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Making and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

close up of a man and woman's legs as they walk outside

Many people use the New Year to try for a new start and do things better.

Some of the most common resolutions – to lose weight, exercise more, limit certain foods and drinks, and quit smoking – are healthy habits that can help you lower your cancer risk and benefit you for the rest of your life. In fact, about 42% of cancer cases and 45% of cancer deaths in the US are linked to lifestyle-related risk factors. Some of those risk factors are excess body weight, inactivity, an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, and alcohol use.

Keeping New Year's resolutions can be hard. But setting small goals and celebrating them as you meet them can be very rewarding. Here are some tips and tools for making those resolutions and sticking to them.

Exercise and manage your weight

  • Be physically active on a regular basis. This can help you get to and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Be specific about your exercise goal. For example, instead of resolving to just get more, make a plan to walk 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  • Think you don’t have time to add any physical activity to your day? Try simple substitutions, such as using stairs rather than an elevator, or using a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching TV.
  • Talk to your doctor to be sure you're on track with a good plan to get more exercise. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get 150-300 or 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these). Getting to or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes is ideal. Children and teens should get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each week.
  • Limit sedentary behavior like sitting, lying down, watching TV, and other forms of screen-based entertainment.

Follow a healthy eating pattern

  • Eat foods that are high in nutrients in amounts that help you get to and stay at a healthy body weight.
  • Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Limit or avoid red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, and highly processed foods and refined grain products.
  • It's best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink, limit yourself to no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.

Quit tobacco

  • Get help quitting tobacco. Ask the American Cancer Society to help you. Research shows that getting help increases your chances of success. Visit or call us at 1-800-227-2345 and we’ll help you get started.
  • Get an app for that. The National Cancer Institute has a quit-smoking app that allows users to set quit dates, track financial goals, schedule reminders, and more. 

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the US. Quitting tobacco lowers your risk of several cancers. Quitting also lowers your risk of diabetes, helps your blood vessels work better, and helps your lungs and heart. In fact, quitting smoking can add as much as 10 years to your life, compared to if you continue to smoke.

Learn more about adopting and keeping healthy habits at

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.