Here’s a health checklist to start your new year right

Click to play video: 'Dr. Mitch’s 2019 health checklist' Dr. Mitch’s 2019 health checklist
WATCH: Start the New Year in good health. Global’s Laura Casella sits down with Dr. Mitch Shulman with tips to improve your overall health and feel better for 2019 – Dec 17, 2018

Dr. Mitch Shulman joined Laura Casella on Global News Morning with Dr. Mitch’s 2019 health checklist of ways to start the New Year by feeling better and improving your overall health.

1. Sleep — try to get about eight hours

“If you can resolve to do one thing in 2019, try to get eight hours of sleep every day,” Shulman said.

Those eight hours of restful sleep can help you avoid obesity and depression, make you a better person and enable you to do other things.

“Sleep has been shown to be one of the most important things,” he said.

The proper amount of sleep may also ward off certain cancers and other diseases.

If you can’t get eight hours of sleep at a time, then try and make up for it on the days when you can.

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2. Don’t be a couch potato — stand up and walk more

Be active. That could be something as simple as getting up from your cubicle to visit your friends in their cubicles, rather than emailing them or phoning them.

It could also be as simple as parking your car a little further away and walking more.

Just don’t be a couch potato — “Or a chair potato, whatever potato,” he said.

Activity doesn’t mean running a marathon, but activity during the day has been shown to be really important in terms of avoiding obesity, cancer and other things.

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3. Eat right — aim for a well-rounded, nutritious diet

You’re going to hear about fat diets, you’re going to hear about cutting out this, doing or not doing that. But Shulman says simple is still the best.

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Over time, the diet shown to be the most effective is the Mediterranean diet. The diet is composed of nuts, green and leafy vegetables, cold water seafood and olive oil. It is also low in salt.

The problem with most diets, such as paleo or keto, is sticking to them, he said. The Mediterranean diet has stood the test of time, Shulman said. “It’s easy to stick to it, it tastes good, it works.”

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4. Be social — quality over quantity for friends

Humans are social organisms. Study after study has shown that you recover best from disease if you have a group of close friends that you can turn to.

We’re not talking about quantity here, we’re talking about quality, Shulman said. The idea is to have a few close people that you can reach out to for support.

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“You don’t have to be very social. You can be a little social,” Shulman said.

A study following people recovering from heart attacks found that people with the best social network recovered from their heart attack best.

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5. Spend more time outside — take a walk in the park

Spend time with nature, in contact with nature outdoors.

That “doesn’t mean you need to go on a 15-mile hike,” Shulman said.

Study after study shows being exposed to greenery has all sorts of beneficial effects, such as lowering your blood pressure or reducing stress.

So whether it’s looking out from your window and seeing trees in your backyard or going for a walk in the park with your dog, expose yourself to nature on a regular basis.

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If you are going to make any new year’s resolutions. Shulman recommends you follow those five health tips.

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“They’re easy, they’re not difficult, they’re not expensive, they don’t require any special equipment or machinery.”

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