AMA Offers 10 Health Recommendations for New Year
With the new year approaching, the American Medical Association (AMA) is offering 10 recommendations to help Americans make the most impactful, long-lasting improvements to their health in 2024 and beyond.
“It is quite common after the holidays to think about all you’ve eaten or your reduced physical activity and get discouraged,” said AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H. “But the good news is you don’t have to make major health changes in one fell swoop. You can make small, positive health choices right now that can have long-lasting effects.”
The AMA’s 10 recommendations for a healthier new year, include the following:
- Be more physically active—exercise is essential for your physical and mental health. Adults should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.
- Reduce your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar—drink more water and replace processed foods with nutritious, whole foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and poultry. Drinking sugary beverages, even 100% fruit juices, is associated with a higher all-cause mortality risk, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.
- Make sure your family is up-to-date on their vaccines during respiratory virus season—including the annual flu vaccine and the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone six months and older. Vaccines are also available to protect older adults from severe RSV. New tools to protect infants during RSV season include maternal vaccination and monoclonal antibody immunization. If you have questions, speak with your physician and review trusted resources, including getvaccineanswers.org. It is also important to follow evidence-based public health measures, such as covering coughs and sneezes, frequently washing your hands, improving air quality, wearing masks and staying home if you are sick, to help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.
- Get screened—estimates based on statistical models show that since April 2020, millions of screenings for breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer diagnoses may have been missed due to pandemic-related care disruptions. Check with your physician to find out if you’re due for preventive care, tests or screenings, and make an appointment. These measures are designed to keep you healthy and help your doctor spot certain conditions before they become more serious.
- Know your blood pressure numbers—visit ManageYourBP.org to better understand your numbers and take necessary steps to get high blood pressure—also known as hypertension—under control. Doing so will reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Learn your risk for type 2 diabetes—take a simple online 2-minute self-screening test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. Steps you take now can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcomes, including hospitalization or death.
- If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
- Talk with your doctor about tobacco and e-cigarette use (or vaping) and how to quit— your doctor can offer resources and guidance for quitting tobacco and nicotine. Declare your home and car smoke-free to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.
- Follow your physician’s instructions if prescribed pain medication or antibiotics—if you are taking prescription opioids or other medications, always store them safely to prevent diversion or misuse, and properly dispose of any leftover medication. If a health care professional determines that you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Not taking the full course can lead to antibiotic resistance—a serious public health problem—and will not make you feel better if you have a virus, such as a cold or flu.
- Manage stress—good mental health is part of good overall health. Get sufficient sleep (at least 7.5 hours per night), exercise and ask for help from a mental health professional when you need it.
The AMA also encourages everyone who is eligible to visit healthcare.gov to sign up for health coverage, which includes recent changes that improve access and affordability. The deadline to enroll for 2024 coverage is Jan. 16, 2024. More health resources and tips can be found by visiting ama-assn.org.
The AMA is committed to improving the health of the nation by leading the charge to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The AMA will continue its efforts aimed at helping the U.S. achieve no new preventable cases of type 2 diabetes and helping all adults meet their blood pressure goals to ensure patients live richer and fuller lives.
About the American Medical Association
The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.