6 simple ways to crush your 2018 health goals right away

Many folks are making their New Year's Resolutions - so why not make health one of your priorities in the new year. Here are some easily achieved -- and sustainable -- health improvements you can immediately make for 2018!

Sleep

Studies show a good night's sleep not only energizes you throughout the day but it also helps with learning and memory. Experts say when you are well-rested you can focus your attention better and learn more efficiently. Sleep also plays a role in improving memory function, which is essential for learning and retaining new information.

Harvard Medical research also shows that lack of sleep affects your mood, motivation and perception of events. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep a night for adults. And this doesn't even account for the preparation beforehand. Their experts have seen successful sleep improvements by turning off all screens within an hour of bedtime, such as phones, tablets, televisions and computers. They also recommend limiting caffeine intake throughout the day, typically putting that cup of coffee down at least six hours before bedtime to avoid sleep disruption.

Kick up the cardio

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity. One way to achieve this would be 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

If you are looking to lower blood pressure and cholesterol the AHA suggests doing 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise, 3-4 times a week. High-intensity interval training (HIITS) consists of cycles of high intensity followed by lower-intensity activity is also a good way to get a cardio workout in a short period of time.

Of course, if you plan to increase your cardio, be sure to use an HSA-eligible blood pressure monitor to stay within safe activity levels.

Drink water!

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight, and is essential to help your cells, tissues and organs function properly. But, when your body is even mildly dehydrated you may feel sluggish. Be sure to drink water throughout the day and eat foods that are good sources of water like fruits and vegetables.

To ensure we get ample hydration, we keep a water bottle at our desks to help balance our daily intake. As a point of reference, Mayo Clinic experts suggest women drink 2.7 liters of fluids a day while men try to consume 3.7 liters.

Prevention is key

To keep steady track of your ongoing health, be sure to book your annual physical and eye examinations with your doctor the same time each year. Some suggest scheduling them around your birthday since it's a good way to remember to make those appointments.

Fill your social calendar

Whether it is a monthly dinner or cup of coffee. And talk face-to-face with friends vs Facebook comments. Health experts say there are significant benefits to social interaction and physical touch with people. According to a National Institutes of Health study, positive social well-being has been associated with lower levels of inflammatory factors that lead to Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases.

These (and related) studies also show people who are lonely often have elevated systolic blood pressure. Heck, these researchers also show that hugs help lower the stress chemical cortisol, and cause a release of a chemical that helps makes people feel more secure toward one another.

Cook your meals at home!

Find a set of healthy recipes and set aside a day to prepare meals for the week. This will help save you money from constantly ordering out when you pull some late nights at work, and help you control what ingredients are in your food.

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