Cheers for a Healthier Year

a happy group of teen girls on sports team high five after win

Here’s to you! Resolve to have a healthier 2015 and possibly even a longer life by making health-related New Year’s resolutions and sticking to them.

A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says making healthy choices can lower your risk of dying early from the 5 leading causes of death in the US: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases (including emphysema and bronchitis), stroke, and unintentional injuries. Together, they account for 63% – or almost 900,000 – of deaths each year in people under age 80. According to the CDC, about 20% to about 40% of deaths from each of these causes could be prevented.

Here are some things you can do to help ensure you’ll be around to ring in New Year after New Year:

  • Avoid tobacco to lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, and stroke. If you don’t use tobacco products, don’t start. If you do, quit. We know it’s not easy; for help, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.
  • Eat a healthy diet to lower your risk for cancer and heart disease. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day; eating less red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) and less processed meat (bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, and hot dogs); choosing foods made from whole grains instead of refined grains; and eating fewer sweets.
  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight to lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Engage in physical activity to lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (equal to a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (makes your heartbeat and breathing faster, and makes you sweat) each week, preferably spread throughout the week. Kids should get at least 1 hour of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity at least 3 days each week. If you have health problems or have not been active in a long time, clear any new activity with your doctor.
  • Limit exposure to sun and UV rays to lower your risk for skin cancer. When out in the sun (even in winter or on cloudy days), protect your skin with clothing, a hat, sunglasses, and broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Seek shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4p.m. And avoid indoor tanning.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to lower your risk for cancer, stroke, and unintentional injury. Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day and women no more than 1.
  • Wear seatbelts, use motorcycle helmets, and avoid misuse of prescription and illegal drugs to cut down on the risk of unintentional injury.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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