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Four Basic Building Blocks of Good Health

University of Scranton research suggests that 25% of people fail to maintain their New Year’s resolutions after the first week and just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. This New Year, instead of trying to tackle athlete-level fitness, a nutritionist’s diet and guzzling 10 glasses of water a day, why not start with a resolution to build a healthier foundation? Here’s a reminder of some of the basic building blocks that can help you accomplish a healthier lifestyle. Start building now and you’ll be soaring to a skyscraper of good health in no time.

Building Block 1: Maintain a Well-Rounded Diet

The most basic building block of good nutrition is simply to eat a well-balanced diet – this means a diet including fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy. USDA’s MyPlate is a good guide for daily meal planning. Depending on your age, sex and level of physical activity, basic daily nutrition recommendations include:

· 1-2 cups of fruit

· 1-3 cups of vegetables

· 1 ½ - 4 ounces of grains

· 2-6 ½ ounces of protein

· 2-3 cups of dairy

Some additional basics of good nutrition:

· Choose whole fruits over fruit juices to add nutrients.

· Select whole grains over refined grains. These can include whole wheat breads, whole wheat pasta or brown rice.

· Incorporate leaner and more varied sources of protein in your diet, including seafood.

· Opt for fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Building Block 2: Get Active

While we all strive to be able to run a marathon, hit the ball out of the park or do 200 sit-ups, the first step is simply getting active. Any activity at all is better than inactivity, whether that’s a brisk walk outside or a game of tag with the family. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest that most health benefits occur when adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity – that means just 30 minutes of physical activity a day. So take a stroll around your office, a Zumba class with your best friend or a bike ride around your neighborhood. Whatever you do, if you’re spending time getting active, you’ve made a great start.

Building Block 3: Drink More Water

The ultimate hydration goal: drink one ounce of water per pound weighed. (If you’re up to this challenge we have a great 7-day plan to help you reach this goal.) However, just like any other element of health and wellness, its best to tackle hydration one step at a time. The first building block? Simple - add more water to your diet. Whether you replace one can of soda with a bottle of water or add an extra glass of water to your morning routine, drinking more water is a step in the right direction for good health.

Building Block 4: Get to Bed

Seven hours a night of sleep may seem unrealistic, but a good night’s sleep is an important building block of good health. Sleep has been shown to promote physical health, mental wellness, memory, focus and safety. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there are three keys to healthy sleep: quantity, quality and regularity. Bottom line: it’s not just about getting to sleep early, but also making sure to avoid any disruptions that might prevent a restful night’s sleep and maintaining a sleep routine that works for your body. Don’t focus on the number seven, but do focus on getting a good night’s rest each and every night.

For more suggestions to improve healthy eating, hydration, physical activity, sleep and stress one step at a time check out our One Simple Change page. What building blocks are you hoping to put in place for good health this year?


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