Living with a chronic condition like diabetes, arthritis or asthma? Well, now that the new year is here, there’s no better time to make the resolution to treat yourself better—whether it’s improving your diet, relaxing more or making fitness fun. Here’s inspiration to help you get started—and make 2014 your best year yet!
If you have diabetes…
- Make the most of winter sports. Exercise improves blood sugar control and helps keep off pounds. One of the best ways to stick with it? Mix up your routine! Take advantage of the season, and (with your doctor’s permission) make this the year you learn to ski, ice-skate or snowshoe!
- Set a regular bedtime. “Patients with diabetes who report poor sleep habits often have poor A1C values [the number that shows how well your blood sugar is balancing],” says endocrinologist K.K. Rajamani, MD, of Rochester, NY. Having a set lights-out hour every night is key to keeping your sleep schedule regular and your blood sugar more stable.
- Eat your favorite foods. But make it real food, says Marc Sandberg, MD, of the Center for Nutrition and Diabetes Management in Flemington, NJ. If you love pasta, go with whole-grain, or if you love cheese, choose a low-fat version.
If you have arthritis…
- Cut back on sugar! It’s been study-proven that high-fructose corn syrup (found mainly in regular soda and packaged foods) can worsen inflammation, which means stiffer, more painful joints. Also, high-sugar foods are high in calories, making it harder to maintain your weight, which, in turn, places more stress on the joints—every pound you gain adds four pounds of pressure to your knees! Try this: Take refined sugar (including corn syrup) out of your diet for six weeks and see if the change brings relief.
- Add yoga to your wake-up routine. This is the year you can put morning joint stiffness to rest—by doing slow, gentle yoga moves right in your bed! Yoga is proven to be one of the best exercises for improving flexibility in people with arthritis.
- Budget for splurges! Everyday tasks can add up, causing extra wear-and-tear on your joints. This year, splurge a little so you can cut back on your to-do list. Not all services are pricey—getting groceries delivered usually costs about $6 extra and saves you the strain of walking around the store and lifting bags. If a weekly housecleaner seems out of reach, consider hiring someone just once a month.
If you have asthma…
- Join an indoor walking club. The cold, dry winter air can wreak havoc on your asthma, yet gentle exercise—like walking—is one of the best ways to strengthen your lungs and lessen your symptoms. Since outdoor strolls are ill advised, try an indoor walking club, which meets at an enclosed mall (check websites of local malls to find one near you).
- Open windows while cleaning. Dust, dander and mold can trigger asthma attacks for many people—and these indoor pollutants can reach staggering levels when the temperature outside drops and people keep doors and windows shut. The best fix? Crack your windows and doors just for the few minutes you’re cleaning. It’ll help let all the dust you’re stirring up escape, and let in some fresh air to boot.
- Wash your hands. It’s cold and flu season—which can be especially bad for people with asthma. Hand washing is the No. 1 way to prevent getting sick. Remember to wash for 30 seconds using soap and water (alcohol-based hand sanitizers are okay in a pinch!).