Five Unexpected Ways to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

When 2016 started, many adults 50 and over set high expectations for self-improvement. For many, that meant wanting to lose weight, becoming more active or eating healthier. However, actually sticking with those resolutions throughout the entire year can be tricky. This year, instead of giving up after the rush of the new year has passed, consider finding ways to integrate your new healthy lifestyle into your everyday life.

Staying fit and healthy was the most common New Year's resolution this year, according to a popular survey. In fact, a recent AARP survey found that 32 percent of women and 22 percent of men said health and fitness were at the top of their list for aspirations for the new year.

However, despite these great intentions, many people have trouble continuing their newfound healthy lifestyles after the first few weeks of the year. Research shows that 30 percent of all resolutions are broken before February and only 14 percent of those 50 and over achieve their resolutions each year.

If you don't want to be one of these statistics and you strive to achieve your health goals in 2016, consider integrating your healthy aspirations into your everyday life. From expanding on activities you already partake in to cooking simple culinary dishes that are delicious and nutritious, retaining a newfound healthy lifestyle is attainable.

This year, consider the following activities as you strive to enhance your health:

Get Plenty of Sleep - You can't get fit if you aren't well-rested. Not getting enough sleep can have serious repercussions on your health, including weakening your immune system and causing heart attacks and weight gain. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends) is a great way to improve your sleeping habits and overall health. Also, an hour before you go to bed, have some relaxation time, such as taking a bath or reading a book. Avoid watching TV or playing on your computer during this time, as the light generated from these items stimulates your brain, making you feel more awake. If you like to nap during the day, only sleep for 20 minutes. Sleeping too long during the day will result in a sleepless night. Getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night will help to ensure you're ready to achieve your fitness goals the next day.

Participate in a Mall Walk - Lace up your tennis shoes and hit the mall for some easy exercise that is perfect for all ages. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or starting a new fitness routine, mall walking is a perfect way to get the blood pumping without over-exerting yourself. In fact, experts say that participating in brisk walks reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. It may also enhance your mood, help you sleep better and increase your energy. Malls are the perfect location to do these types of walks because they are well lit, safe and, best of all, free! Also, they aren't weather dependent, offering you a safe haven to exercise in extreme cold and hot temperatures. Many communities offer mall-walking groups, so you may make some new friends in the process.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables Daily - Instead of trying to completely transform your eating habits overnight, why not slowly adjust your diet? Trying to eat at least one serving of fruits and vegetables a day is a great start. One easy way to do this is by preparing at least one meal a day. Some of these meals could include adding some fruit to yogurt for breakfast, making a healthy salad for lunch or having stir fry for dinner. If you don't have time to cook every day, look for already prepared meals that are packed with fruits and vegetables. Food delivery services, such as bistroMD and Schwan's Home Service, offer healthy meals that are already prepared. Try the Greek omelet with fruited quinoa from bistroMD or the roasted turkey and vegetables from Schwan's. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, so don't expect to change your entire diet overnight. Transitions like this take time and dedication.

Eliminate Soda from Your Diet - One easy way to lose weight in 2016 is to stop drinking soda. This sugary beverage is not only addictive, it also has high levels of sodium, causing dehydration. Drinking soda also makes your tooth enamel dissolve, increases your risk of having a stroke and is directly linked to obesity. Instead of drinking a soda with your meal, drink a glass of water. Add some flavor to it by adding some slices of lemon, oranges or cucumber. If you crave the carbonation that you get from soda, combine some pomegranate or grape juice with some seltzer water to create a "jeltzer." This healthy drink offers you the fizz and sweetness you desire, while also providing you with vitamins you need. Moderation is key - having a soda every once in a while is alright, as long as it doesn't become a daily occurrence.

Park Further Away - The key to staying fit is to integrate healthy activities into your daily life. Each day you get into your car and drive to the office, the store or a family or friend's house. When you arrive at your destination the natural instinct is to park as close to the entrance as possible. However, next time you visit these locations, consider parking as far away as possible. This simple act forces you to get out and exercise, even if it's for a short amount of time. Experts say walking as little as five minutes a day can dramatically improve your health, including lowering your risk of heart disease and depression. If you use public transportation, consider getting off one or two bus stops early and walking home. Another great way to get some quick exercise is to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Carry a pedometer and track your progress; this will motivate you to continue to get out and stretch your legs.

While maintaining your health-focused New Year's resolutions may seem challenging, it is possible to obtain these goals and stay dedicated. To help you stay on track, consider writing down your goals, recruiting a friend or loved to get fit with you, or even making a detailed plan of how you are going to achieve your health aspirations. If you follow these steps, you will be sure to meet your health goals and you will feel great inside and out.