We know the calendar still says December. But now that the turkey's gone and the shopping season is in full swing, it's time to start planning for the new year. And with that comes the inevitable resolutions. But, even though only 8% of people actually keep their New Year's resolutions, let's start now to ensure you don't become one of them.
Our plan? Making small steps in your journey to get healthy, rather than all-encompassing – and hard to keep – promises. Make a commitment to reach your daily step goal, finally deal with that nagging knee pain, or invest in the pair of insoles you needed six months ago.
Here are five attainable suggestions for improving your health in the new year.
Did you know that simply getting out and walking on a regular basis can cut your chances of having a cardiovascular issue by 31%, and that running less than 20 miles a week can help you live longer? Making it a point to get moving in the new year is a great way to dramatically improve your health.
Get started with a running program, hit the gym for 30 minutes each day, or just commit to just a daily walk with your pooch. And if walking or running brings on a whole new set of aches and pains, your HSA can help there! HSAs cover a huge range of products to treat sports injuries or alleviate soreness, from kinesiology tapes to athletic braces to hot & cold packs.
Take care of nagging injuries
As a former college athlete, I know how those old injuries can stick around for years. But not taking care of these aches and pains isn't doing you any favors. And let's be honest – no one is getting any younger.
Luckily, doctor's visits and appointments with your physical therapist are HSA-eligible. Just need to take the edge off? Ibuprofen, heating pads, and even ice packs are also covered. But if you're bound and determined to continue your athletic career as a weekend warrior, pick up a orthopedic brace, courtesy of your HSA.
Kick bad habits to the curb
What better time to quit a bad habit than with the fresh start of a new year? Whether it can be smoking, overindulging in the holiday vino, or consistently running late, it's time to break that bad habit for good.
Are you a smoker? Then keep this number in mind: 480,000. That's how many people in the U.S. died last year from smoking-related diseases. While quitting this bad habit certainly won't be easy, you can use your HSA funds to help pay for a smoking cessation program.
As for the wine drinking, enjoy yourself this holiday season. But perhaps kickstart your health in 2020 with a dry January pledge.
We know this saying is overused, if not a bit clichéd. But hear us out. Self-care can do wonders for your mental health, from decreasing stress to preventing burnout.
So use your HSA to finally spring for the braces you've always wanted. (Your sparking new smile will thank you!) Or finally make a commitment to your mental health. You could also spring for an HSA-eligible massage to ease your aches and pains, given that you have a letter of medical necessity, of course.
Focus on your budget
Nearly 20% of Americans said they had considered skipping or actually skipped a doctor's visit for necessary health care due to financial reasons, according to a study from the American Psychological Association.
So make 2020 the year you take care of your budget so you can take care of your health. Be sure your HSA funds are invested, or save some of your hard-earned HSA funds, rather than spending them. You also could set a mid-year goal of maxing out your HSA contributions – that way, if an unexpected medical emergency crops up, you'll be covered.
The ball drop and flowing champagne may be a month away, but it's not too early to make a commitment to yourself and your health -- one you're likely to keep for years to come.
Whether you're spending steadily or saving for something big, Wage Up! is where we highlight the latest services available to buy with your HSA, every Monday on the HSA Learning Center. And for everything else about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.