Five Health Goals for 2011 and How to Meet Them

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Exercise

Digging up the motivation to exercise can be hard in the winter months. Shorter days and cooler temperatures (not to mention sidewalks full of snow) make it hard to get out for a run. Buying a gym membership can give you the financial incentive and the indoor space to work out, but it only works if you use it.

"A lot of people have gym memberships that they don't use, including myself," Cimperman said. "My goal is to go to the gym twice a week, and that doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a realistic goal that I know I can meet," Cimperman said.

But you don't need a gym membership to get in shape, Cimperman stressed. Running up and down the stairs in your house or apartment building or at work is a great workout. And workout DVDs, even YouTube videos, can also offer some fitness solutions on the cheap.

Walking to work or choosing the stairs over the elevator can help you burn a few extra calories each day. But to get the real health benefits of exercise, your heart rate needs a hike, according to Dr. Shukri David, Chief of Cardiology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan.

"You ideally want to increase your heart rate to 85 percent of what we call target, which is 220 minus your age," David said. That's 160 for a 40-year-old. And sustaining that increased heart rate for 15-30 minutes each day will benefit your whole body.

Take Preventive Measures

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. So it's important to know your risk factors and your numbers, Providence Hospital's David said.

Genetics play an important part in determining your risk, so knowing your family history is an important first step. But other modifiable factors, such as smoking, being overweight, and having diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol also increase your risk.

"You can't choose your parents, but you can certainly get your blood pressure down, you can get your blood sugar down with diabetes, you can normalize your cholesterol levels, you can stop smoking, and you can lose weight," David said.

Seeing a doctor at least once a year for a preventative physical exam can help you stay on top of your numbers, David said. And many of the medications that help keep those numbers in check, such as cholesterol-lowering statins, are inexpensive.

Although heart disease is the leading killer in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is a close second. Regular screening for breast, prostate and colorectal cancer can help spot problems early on, often improving a treatment's success, David said.

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