Healthy living begins with commitments made today

As we are well into January, many people who have set new goals and resolutions for the New Year have already broken one or many of them. If you have put off making health and exercise changes to your lifestyle for 2013, it is never too late to recommit.“Each year, three of the top five resolutions made by American adults consist of health- and exercise-related goals,” said Wes Stafford, director of the cardiac rehabilitation program at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH). “People understand the need, but often fall short of motivation.”Whether your goals for the New Year include better nutrition, more exercise, weight-loss or smoking cessation, there are many benefits to sticking with your commitments. According to Stafford, people of all ages and physical conditions can benefit from regular physical activity. Children, teenagers, seniors, even people with disabilities will find they feel, think and look better with just a little physical activity.Lack of exercise can have many negative health consequences, including heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, depression and moodiness.“With all these bad side effects caused by a sedentary lifestyle, we cannot understand why people do not take some simple measures to get active,” said Stafford. “More than 60 percent of all adults are not active and half of teenagers in the U.S. lead a totally sedentary lifestyle, opting for video games and computer time.”Stafford added that today’s technology brings a wealth of tools and information that can aid in healthy lifestyles. Products such as the Fitbit One and the Nike+ FuelBand can help users track physical activity such as footsetps and distance, calories burned, track weight and diet habits and even measure sleep quality.“These tools give users a wealth of information to help them track and measure their progress,” Stafford explained. “With social media tie-ins, it’s easier to hold yourself accountable and compete with relatives and loved ones for meeting goals.”For those looking to quit smoking, mobile phone and tablet apps can also assist in tracking days since your last cigarette, money saved from not purchasing tobacco products and motivational reminders to consume healthy snacks to curb cravings.“People choose diet and exercise for a variety of health benefits. Those who recently stopped smoking will especially benefit from physical activity and eating healthy snacks to suppress their tobacco craving,” Stafford said. “In addition, just walking the dog, taking out the trash, or digging in the garden are physical activities that can benefit the normal adult. Brisk walking or yard work for 30 minutes can have the same health benefits as running or playing a sport.”Other recommendations that Stafford suggested include:• Taking the stairs instead of elevators;• Shopping and “mall walking;”• Dancing;• Cleaning around the house;• Hand washing/drying dishes;• Parking further away from the entrance to extend your walk;• Substituting sugary snacks with vegetable sticks or fruit;• Choosing water instead of sodas;• Reducing serving sizes in meals;• Joining fitness programs with family and friends.As with any change in diet or exercise, Stafford advised that you consult with your local physician prior to starting a rigorous exercise program, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions.“The littlest changes can make a big difference,” Stafford explained. “Once you get started, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll enjoy a healthier lifestyle with results you will see and feel.”Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital provides healthcare for those in the communities they serve. Founded in 1976, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital offers a wealth of medical services including: 24 hour emergency care, advanced radiology services including CT scanning and MRIs, outpatient lab, physical therapy, surgical services, swing bed services, patient education, home health and assistive services, and more. For additional information, please visit