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New Year's resolution ideas for the whole family

By Jennifer Larson, contributor


Raise your hand if you can’t wait for 2021 to get here. Just about everyone is looking forward to a new year. And this year, it’s even more important to get started on the right foot. Here are 7 New Year’s resolutions you and your family can adopt to make the new year a healthy and happy one. 


1. Get more exercise

Most of us know that we need to exercise more, but we don’t always do it. So, if you don’t do anything else in 2021, try to move more.


How much? It depends, in part, on your age. Adults need two hours of physical activity every week, according to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. (And really, you could do more than that.) Children between the ages of 6 and 17 need an hour of physical activity every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And younger children should be moving around throughout the day. 


Ask everyone in your family what kind of exercise or activity appeals to them—and give it a try. Try to find some activities that you can do together, too, like going for a hike or taking a long bike ride. 


2. Eat healthier 

Ah, one of everyone’s favorite New Year’s Resolutions: to eat healthier. It’s not impossible, especially if you choose some specific goals to focus on.

The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests some of these strategies:

  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast.

  • Read food labels so you know what you’re getting when you buy food.

  • Try eating more whole grains, like whole grain breads and pastas.

  • Drink more water.

  • Add another veggie to your plate. Aim for 2.5 cups of vegetables (and 2 cups of fruit) each day.

  • Cook with healthier fats, like olive oil.

  • Be mindful of portion sizes. 

Experts often suggest planning meals in advance, too, so you can be more deliberate about what you eat.

3. Try new foods

It can be easy to fall into a rut when it comes to food: the same sandwich for lunch, a half-dozen tried-and-true entrees for dinner, etc. Resolve to try some new (healthy) foods this year with your family. Let everyone take a turn picking out something new and giving it a go. Head to your local farmer’s market, a roadside farm stand, a specialty store, or even your favorite grocery store and make it a point to buy something you’ve never tried. Make it a rule that everyone has to at least taste it. Alternately, try a familiar food but prepare it in a completely new way. 

4. Organize family activities that you can do together

Spending time together as a family is priceless. Whether it’s Family Game Night or an afternoon spent picking apples, those hours together will go a long way toward creating and sustaining those healthy family relationships. 

Ask your children what sort of activity they’d like to plan for the family to do together. If you give them some say in the matter, they might become much more excited about it. If you can, try to organize family activities on a regular basis, so you can look forward to them. One easy family activity: Eat dinner together. Get your kids involved in planning and preparing the meal, then all sit down and enjoy the fruits of their labor!

5. Volunteer in your community

Your community needs you! Volunteering in your community can not only help people in need, but it can also strengthen your family bond. Your children will learn the value of helping out, and it will build a sense of responsibility in them. 

Not sure how to get started? Look for projects or programs that speak to you and your interests. For example, if you love animals, ask your local animal shelter if they need volunteers. Food pantries and soup kitchens tend to always need donations and volunteers, too. Or check with your local public schools to see if they have ongoing needs.

6. Encourage each other

Research suggests that having a strong support network has numerous benefits. Your support network can encourage you and hold you accountable to your goals. As a family, resolve to be there for each other. For example, if one person is trying to lose weight or stop smoking, find effective ways to encourage them without accidentally undermining their efforts. Or at the dinner table, you could ask everyone to take a turn saying what they appreciate about each other. 

7. Don’t skip routine medical and dental care

You know that old expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? It really is true. Getting regular preventive care can help you and your family members stay healthier longer


So, resolve to make appointments for those important preventive care visits this year. Don’t put off that regular dental check-up. Get a seasonal flu vaccine. Schedule that annual mammogram or that colonoscopy that you’ve been putting off. Take your child or teen into the pediatrician for their well-child visit—and make sure all their vaccinations are current. You might also need to see your eye doctor or your dermatologist, too.


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