SOURCE: Aetna Foundation

November 10, 2016 11:11 ET

5 Ways To Create Healthy Days

MISSION, KS--(Marketwired - Nov 10, 2016) -  (Family Features) Ring in the New Year with a resolution that you can stick with.

Contrary to popular belief, overall health is more than just being free of disease or chronic illness. Other factors, such as access to fresh foods, neighborhood walkability and public safety, to name a few, can help cultivate more healthy days.

Respondents to an Aetna Foundation survey said local aspects have a large effect on their health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also acknowledges that a person's zip code is a good indicator of an individual's health and longevity. However, there are small, everyday steps you can make for a fresh, healthy start this year, such as these five easy tips.

Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise. Forty-nine percent of Americans say they exercise to improve their overall health, according to the survey. To beat the rush, head to the gym early in the morning. Although it can be difficult to visit your local gym or recreational center before sunrise, getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day can not only start your day off strong, but also help you feel more energized and aid you in maintaining a healthy weight. Other ways to get daily exercise include taking part in sports, riding your bike on a path close to home or walking in your neighborhood park.

Drink more water and plan meals. It's easy to splurge on food and drink during the holiday season, but the New Year is a good time to swap your candy canes and pumpkin pie for fruits, veggies and water. Planning your meals ahead of time can help you incorporate healthier food options into your diet. Drinking water throughout the day instead of sugary sodas and juices helps your body regulate temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects the spinal cord and sensitive tissues, and helps prevent weight gain.

Step away for small breaks. Your overall health also includes your emotional health and well-being. More than eight out of 10 Americans surveyed said their mood and stress level has an equal impact on their health as the food they consume. Life can get busy and overwhelming as you jump back into a post-holiday routine, but simple acts like taking a few deep breaths, standing and stretching or taking a walk can help calm the mind and relieve stress.

Put your smartphone and body on sleep mode. The amount of sleep you get can have a direct impact on your mood and health. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they need at least eight hours of sleep to have a healthy day. Add reading a few new books to your yearly goals to help you unplug from electronics an hour or more before going to bed, and ensure you're getting the rest you need.

Get involved. More than nine out of 10 Americans said they are willing to take action to create a healthier environment, according to the survey. Using a strong support system of friends and family, you can help each other ensure 2017 is a healthy year. Organize ways to stick with your resolutions as a group, such as scheduling a weekly walk, planning a neighborhood recycling contest, registering for a fitness event or signing up to volunteer.

More than what happens in the doctor's office impacts your health. Incorporating these small changes can help you achieve your goals and lead to a healthier and happier 2017. To learn more about ways cities and counties near you are making a difference, visit HealthiestCities.org.

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