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A healthy 2014

December 30, 2013

Want to make better health choices? Use Ohio State research as a guide.

Health 2014

It’s common to plan for better health in the new year. But it’s not easy to know where or how to start. We can’t fight our genes, but we do have control over many elements of our well-being.

Not sure where to focus first? The Ohio State studies described below can help you make smart choices about your health.

Plan your day: Which is more important: exercising or preparing meals at home? Both are recommended by public health experts. But research suggests that American adults who cook at home and exercise on the same day are likely spending more time on one of those activities at the expense of the other. People with little time for healthy behaviors must plan wisely to fit their own well-being into their schedules.

Work on relationships: Being lonely or feeling unsupported in a close relationship can have the same effect on health as chronic stress – by altering how the immune system works. Two recent studies showed how being lonely has the potential to harm health, and that anxieties about close relationships can lower immunity. The good news: Positive social connections can result in better outcomes.

Stop smoking: The health risks linked to cigarettes are clear. But did you know that smoking could lower your job prospects? According to recent research, companies pay almost $6,000 per year extra for each employee who smokes. The researchers know that quitting is difficult: They note that employers can help workers by offering cessation programs. Ohio State has received an $18.7 million federal grant to continue important research about tobacco use.

Walk, don’t run. Actually, do both! An engineering study shows that you can trust your body’s tendency to keep you energized when you’re on the move. The research suggested that the best way to conserve energy and reach your destination on time is to alternate between walking and running. When people aren’t limited by time, they naturally switch back and forth between the two, which is the best strategy for saving energy.

Get off the (cell) phone: Avoid becoming an emergency room statistic. Young people age 16 to 25 are the most likely to be injured as distracted pedestrians while talking on their cell phones, according to a recent study. Among the related accidents: falls and being hit by a car. Talking on the phone accounted for about 69 percent of injuries, compared to texting, which accounted for about nine percent.