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New Year’s Resolutions

Tips to Help Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

Every year, Texans make New Year’s resolutions, many of which improve their health and wealth. In fact, more than one-third (35 percent) of Americans plan to make health-related New Year’s resolutions this year, while a nearly equal number (34 percent) have vowed to improve their financial well-being, according to a new UnitedHealthcare survey.

What are the most common resolutions for 2019? Among people making health resolutions, 34 percent are planning to exercise more, 17 percent intend to eat a healthier diet and 15 percent hope to lose weight. When it comes to financial health, the most common resolutions include saving more (36 percent), paying off debt (20 percent) and increasing income (18 percent).

With that in mind, here are four tips to help encourage a healthier lifestyle for 2019:

Leverage Technology
If you received a new gadget as a holiday gift, there are ways to use that technology to help achieve your resolutions. In fact, the UnitedHealthcare survey found that 53 percent of people making health resolutions plan to use technology to help achieve their goals, including a smartphone app (34 percent), activity tracker (27 percent) or virtual visit with a health care provider (10 percent). Technology can also help people more effectively navigate the health system: online resources now provide quality and cost information for health care providers and treatments in your local area, while some mobile apps can help people evaluate different care settings based on their symptoms, ranging from a virtual visit, primary care, urgent care or the ER.    

Walk to Help Improve Health
If walking is how you plan to improve your fitness, there are some strategies to help make your workout more effective. Think FIT, which stands for frequency (500 steps within seven minutes six times per day), intensity (3,000 steps within 30 minutes each day) and tenacity (at least 10,000 total steps per day). If those targets seem daunting, remember to start slowly and build up over time. For added motivation, some employer-sponsored programs provide financial incentives by meeting walking goals.

Check Available Resources
Many employers (86 percent) offer wellness programs, with the average financial incentive exceeding $780 per year per employee, according to a recent survey. To determine if that applies to you, check with your health plan or employer to see what resources and incentives may be available, including telephonic wellness coaching, gym membership reimbursements, and smoking cessation. You might also have access to various health screenings – such as blood pressure, cholesterol and depression – and timely vaccines, such as the flu shot. Doing so may help you get or stay healthy.

Help Improve Your Oral and Vision Health
With growing evidence of a link between oral and vision health to overall health, as well as to an array of chronic medical conditions, it is important to take care of your teeth and eyes. In fact, 45 percent of Americans say improving their oral health ranks among their resolutions, including visiting the dentist once per year (12 percent), eating less sugary foods/candy (12 percent), and flossing at least once a day (11 percent). For people with certain chronic conditions, maintaining or improving oral health is especially important, while comprehensive eye exams can detect many diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and some types of cancer.  

Why Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions Are So Important

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Every year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, especially to exercise more, eat better and improve their health. However, many resolutions end in failure, with more than half of Americans giving up on their vows by the second week of February.

But setting goals to maintain or improve your health is more than just a turn-of-the-year obligation – it could mean the difference between a long life and a premature death.

Studies show 80 percent or more of premature chronic conditions, such as heart attack, stroke or diabetes, are caused by modifiable lifestyle choices, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors. Yet many Americans lack an understanding of the connection between lifestyle choices and chronic health conditions.

With that in mind, here are five steps to encourage a healthier lifestyle for 2018:

Think About and Set Your Goals
Assess your overall health and well-being, and identify an actionable area for improvement, like your daily diet or your weekly physical activity levels. You are ready for a healthier change, so set realistic and measureable goals. For example:

  • quit smoking;
  • get your annual physical or wellness exam;
  • take a 30-minute walk each day and avoid long periods of sitting;
  • eat more fruits and vegetables; and
  • reduce your calorie intake by 100 calories per day.

Revisit Your Goals Weekly
Like life, this plan of action can change, so it’s important to revisit or even revise your goals each week. In fact, revisiting your goals may help you achieve them. And remember to track your progress so you can remind yourself that you are making positive changes and reaching milestones.

Reward Your Accomplishments
You’re working hard, so go ahead and treat yourself to something you enjoy that does not conflict with your plan and goals, such as buying a new piece of workout apparel or purchasing a new song for your smartphone. Rewarding yourself as you reach short-term goals may help keep you motivated to stay on your path.

Don’t Go to the Extreme
The most common reason that plans fail is because they are unrealistic. While it’s great to be motivated to improve your health, too much change too soon can be unsustainable. Consult with your doctor to find a diet and exercise regimen that best fits your lifestyle.  

Check for Available Resources
To help support your health goals, you may have access to wellness programs available through your employer. In addition, some health plans offer people a variety of health and wellness programs and incentives, including telephonic wellness coaching, gym membership reimbursements, and financial incentives worth more than $1,000 per year by meeting daily walking goals. Be sure to ask your employer or health plan what is available to you.

Following these tips may not be easy at first. Research shows it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your lifestyle. These healthful habits may become second-nature and, as a result, help you maintain your health for years to come.

Commit to Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions and Save Money in 2017

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Nearly half of all Americans each year make New Year’s resolutions, especially commitments to exercise more, eat better and improve one’s health. However, research suggests fewer than 10 percent of people are successful in achieving those resolutions.

But what if you could use technology to get paid for making and achieving some of your New Year’s resolutions, especially those aimed at improving your health? That is the goal behind new products in the growing health and wellness industry, which is leveraging technology to help make it easier for people to maintain and improve their health.

The latest health innovations are on display this week in Las Vegas, home to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This annual showcase brings together the latest innovations from leading companies worldwide, including those focused on health care.

To help people improve their health and save money in 2017, here are five ways you can use technology that may enhance their personal and financial well-being:

  • Find a Fitness Tracker: The wearable-technology market is booming; the industry’s value is expected to reach $31.2 billion by the end of 2020, according to a recent research report. This is good news for consumers, as wearable devices enable people to track their daily steps, monitor their heart rates and analyze sleep patterns. Some employers and health plans are including fitness trackers as part of wellness programs, enabling some employees to earn up to $1,500 per year in incentives by meeting specific daily walking goals. Likewise, websites such as www.achievemint.com enable people to earn cash rewards for walking.
  • Workplace Wellness: Besides fitness trackers, some employers offer other wellness incentives, which can include gift cards, lower health insurance premiums, cash bonuses, and discounts on gym memberships. The value of corporate wellness incentives has increased to $693 per employee, up from $430 five years ago, according to a recent study from the National Business Group on Health. However, the study found that fewer than half of eligible employees earned the full incentive, with workers leaving millions of dollars of unclaimed rewards.
  • Comparison shopping: The internet has transformed how people purchase goods and services, and it is doing the same for health care. Some new online and mobile services enable people to comparison shop for health care based on quality and cost. The Health4Me app, available on iPhone and Android devices, enables users to identify nearby health care providers and facilities, as well as compare quality and estimated cost information for more than 850 common medical services.
  • Get Care Anywhere: New mobile apps now enable people to meet with a primary care physician and specialist to obtain medical care, with the goal of providing convenience and more affordable care. The cost of a video-based virtual visit is usually less than $50 and may provide significant savings when compared to costs for similar minor medical needs treated at a doctor’s office (approximately $80), urgent care facility (approximately $160) or emergency room (approximately $650), according to UnitedHealthcare claims data. Recent advances in audio and video technology is enabling people to obtain a diagnosis and necessary prescriptions for minor medical needs including allergies, sinus and bladder infections, bronchitis and other conditions.
  • Keep Yourself Covered: The New Year is also a good time to evaluate whether you have the necessary level of financial protection to get you through an unforeseen medical issue. A life, disability or critical illness & accident insurance policy may provide peace of mind so you can focus on getting better. Some Americans are underinsured or lack life insurance altogether to help protect an important asset – their ability to earn an income.

The New Year is an opportune time to reflect on your personal and financial health. By taking advantage of available resources, people may improve both their waistlines and their wallets.