New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. Only 30% per cent of people are still making progress at the end of January, and just 8% keep their resolutions in the long term.

In spite of these stats, however, you’ve probably penned a few of your own in the last couple of days. Perhaps you’re keen on a booze-free start to the decade? Maybe you’re intent on shedding a few pounds? Whatever change you’re hoping to enact, there are things you can do, straight off the bat, to ensure their longevity. These are those; our 5 IDEAL hacks for getting started on your New Years’ health resolutions.

MAKE EXERCISE PART OF YOUR DAILY LIFE

Whether to lose weight, get fit or simply be healthier, we all know that being active is extremely important for our physical and mental health. Scientific research has conclusively shown that regular exercise is essential for good health, greatly reducing the risk of serious diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and even memory-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Getting fit can be an uphill battle and many people get discouraged at the beginning of this journey, giving up before they’ve even started. Improve your fitness in subversive, manageable ways by integrating more activity into your daily life. Take the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way, or deliberately park your car a little further away from your destination than normal. From this gentle start, it will be easier to get into regular gym sessions, hikes or jogs.

DON’T GO COLD TURKEY 

If you’re a smoker, then you’ve probably already experienced being out of breath, had a ‘smoker’s cough’, sallow skin and yellow teeth and fingernails. You’ve probably noticed that you get sick more often than your non-smoker friends and take longer to recover. Yep, it’s certainly bad for you; smoking has been linked to at least 14 types of cancer, stroke, heart disease and more, and causes around 80,000 deaths a year in the UK alone.

Nicotine is highly addictive, which is what makes quitting smoking so difficult. Quitting cold turkey is often not the best way. Give yourself a better chance of success by using some kind of nicotine replacement, such as nicotine patches, gum, lozenges or a prescription nicotine inhaler. This is a great way to cut out the bad habits gradually, and eventually eliminate cigs from your life entirely.

PRACTICE A LITTLE EVERYDAY 

Yoga has become more and more popular in recent years, and for good reason. Not only is yoga great for our strength, flexibility and balance, but it’s also valuable for our well-being. Regular yoga practice reduces stress and anxiety, and can even improve focus and discipline.

The key to yoga is regular practice, and establishing a daily habit will make this an indispensable part of your normal routine will make it easier to stick to. Start with a small amount every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes; there are plenty of free videos on YouTube not to mention apps and other options to guide you through a short yoga practice. Pick a time which suits you best (when you first get up, in the evening or even on your lunch break) as sticking to the same time each day will help solidify the habit.

LOOK AFTER YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH & GET TESTED 

Figures show that there are around 400,000 cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the UK. STIs are generally easily treated if detected early, but the longer they go untreated the more difficult they become to treat, and they can have serious health effects. Additionally, during this time sufferers may pass the disease on to others, even if they have no symptoms themselves.

The first step is to get a proper STI screening to check your sexual health and make sure you don’t have any undiagnosed infections. Luckily, this is easier than you think. Whether it’s at a gum clinic in Cardiff, a hospital walk-in in London or even an online kit you order to your home, confidential testing booked online is easy to find. A simple blood or fluid test, and you’ll receive your results in a short amount of time. Peace of mind achieved, and on with the decade, we think.

DON’T DENY YOURSELF FOOD

Your diet is one of the factors which can have the most impact on your health. Without a healthy, balanced diet which contains all the nutrients our body needs, our cells and organs simply can’t function properly. This means our bodily processes are compromised, and in the long term, we are more likely to suffer from a range of conditions including serious diseases and cancer.

Dieting is often seen as a series of restrictions: denying ourselves certain things, such as sugar, fats and junk food. This approach requires a high degree of discipline and can be very difficult to maintain. Rather, think about eating as trying to eat as many positive foodstuffs as possible: these are the foods which are packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Once you include all of these good things in your diet, there won’t be much room for the bad.