Get walking! It’s a great New Year’s Resolution

41331318 - attractive senior mother with daughter relaxing outdoorsWalking is the easiest and perhaps best form of exercise for a long and healthy life. A daily, 30-minute walk can offer a variety of health benefits.

A better mood. Even if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, going for a morning walk can make you feel better. Research shows us that walking offers a host of mental health benefits. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition even links going for a walk with being more creative!

Socialization. Going for a walk in the morning doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Grabbing a friend or family member can make the experience more entertaining and provide motivation/encouragement. You and your walking buddy can set health and fitness goals and achieve them together!

Lowered risk of chronic disease. Studies show walking can lower your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Those who walk for 30 minutes per day, five times or more per week also have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

Weight loss. Get this: one mile walked per day is equivalent to 2,000 steps and 100 calories burned. That’s 700 calories burned per week.

Better sleep. Starting the day right with exercise and a good breakfast is key to helping your body maintain a steady internal schedule. Regular exercise, like walking, can also improve your quality of sleep. Those who exercise as little as 10 minutes per day have been proven to have higher quality sleep.

It’s time to kick the soda habit — for good

29812967 - drinks like cola, beer and lemonade in cansDid you know that the average American gets more than 20 percent of their daily calories from beverages, including soda? With all of the calories, sugar, artificial colors and flavors and caffeine, soda is not ideal for a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways to get starting on changing the daily soda habit.

Take it slow. If you’re used to drinking several cans of soda a day, start by reducing the amount you’re drinking over time. Set specific goals to get you to a point where you aren’t drinking it every day.

Drink water. Sparkling water can be a good substitute for water — you get the fizz without all of the extra ingredients.

Ask for support. Let your friends and family know about your new goal and ask them to keep you accountable. This can help build a support system and encourage you to stick to your word. Better yet, find someone who is willing to try and kick the soda habit with you.

Have a healthy snack on hand. We often turn to soda to fill us up when we should instead be eating real food to feel satisfied. If you keep a healthy snack with protein or fiber on hand, you can reach for that snack whenever you get that “empty” feeling. Mixed nuts, veggies and hummus, or string cheese are all great options.

Know your schedule. You probably have certain situations or environments where you’re more likely to drink soda. If you can identify when and where these soda triggers will happen, you can plan ahead and avoid falling back into your bad habit.