10 Health Goals to Add to Your New Year's Resolutions

With a new year on the horizon, many of us are setting health goals to improve our well-being, but healthy living can be a year-round effort.

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by
Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, MS, RD
— Signos
Health writer
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
May 17, 2024
December 29, 2023
— Updated:
December 29, 2023

Table of Contents

As the clock strikes midnight and the new calendar year begins, many people embrace the opportunity to set new health goals. The beginning of a new year is a natural time for reflection—it’s a fresh start with unlimited potential. But new personal health goals don’t have to be limited to January 1. They can be established and adjusted anytime to pursue your healthiest self.

This article will explore health goals and how they can impact your mental and physical health. We’ll discuss the science behind setting goals and provide examples to reflect on during your own wellness journey.

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What Are Health Goals?

Goals are desired outcomes that require intervention, and health goals are no exception. Personal health goals serve as strategic markers in the pursuit of good health. They’re specific and measurable and span many wellness areas, including physical, emotional, mental, and social aspects.

Goals focusing on physical health can encapsulate weight management, nutrition, and fitness achievements. Those that address mental health goals typically focus on practices that promote cognitive well-being through stress management, cognitive skill development, and mindfulness. Goals that aim to improve emotional health promote resilience and strengthen coping mechanisms, while social wellness goals focus on cultivating meaningful relationships and connections.

Health goals are personalized in nature, with objectives based on individualized needs, preferences, and aspirations. No two wellness journies are the same; health goals must reflect that.

Why Set a Health Goal? 

Establishing personal health goals can be pivotal in your wellness journey. Serving as a compass along the way, health goals can help you develop new skills and achieve a better life balance. But they offer more than just direction as you pursue overall health; attainable goals also cultivate motivation. As you conquer these measurable objectives, you are reminded of your capabilities.

Benefits of health goals may include:

  • Structuring a guide to well-being
  • Supporting preventative healthcare
  • Increasing motivation
  • Encouraging holistic wellness
  • Promoting sustainable lifestyle habits

5 Tips For Setting Realistic Health Goals

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When a healthy lifestyle is the desired endgame, you typically set several health goals along the way. The many avenues of health are connected throughout the body, so it’s essential to set realistic and attainable objectives that address your exercise routine, eating habits, and sleep hygiene, to name a few.

No matter the time of year, setting realistic health goals accounts for many factors. To navigate these factors, consider these tips:

1. Prioritize Your Health Goals

In a world that seems to get busier every day, give yourself permission to prioritize yourself and your health goals. Make a plan and take the time to articulate your wishes and desires for your healthy journey.

2. Be SMART

SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. Be clear about what you want to achieve, and make sure your specific goals can be measured or tracked to monitor your progress. Ensure that the steps needed to achieve your health goals only require action from you and no one else. And always set a realistic timeframe to keep you on track.

3. Think Long-Term Health Goals

With social media at our fingertips, it’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see results immediately. Be patient and remember that your long-term health goals are about more than just rapid weight loss or the like. Establish goals that support a healthier lifestyle through balanced nutrition, physical activity, and emotional well-being.

4. Get Support

Consider sharing your health goals with a friend or family member and ask for their help when appropriate. Including a trusted support system gives you an outlet to share your progress regarding your mental and physical goals. Allowing someone a front-row seat to your personal health goals will enable them to encourage you and provide feedback when desired. And they may even share similar health goals, building a sense of camaraderie.

5. Celebrate Your Wins

Don’t skip the chance to congratulate yourself as you tackle chapters in your wellness journey. Every milestone is a step closer to your health goals, so celebrate the small and big wins. Be proud of yourself—positive reinforcement can boost your confidence and keep you going.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="start-living-a-healthy-lifestyle">How to Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle</a>.</p>

10 Smart Health Goals Examples

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Health goals will vary between individuals based on their desired outcomes. However, New Year’s resolutions often focus on health factors that change your appearance. And, while it’s perfectly acceptable to want to improve your physical fitness or implement weight management techniques, health is so much more than how you appear on the outside.

Health is multi-faceted, so goals that honor whole-person health can support a holistic approach. Examples include:

1. Create a Morning Routine

A morning routine sets you up for success from the moment your feet hit the ground. Routine offers structure in a chaotic world, helping you stay on top of your habits and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. When you always know what’s coming next, you’re prepared.

Design a morning routine that fits your life. Consider adding movement to get your blood flowing and spend some time mentally structuring your day. You can meditate, journal, read, or write a to-do list. You get to decide what routine works best for you.

2. Make Time for Self-Care

Self-care often gets moved to the bottom of the to-do list, but our bodies and brains can only take so much. Don’t ignore your mental, physical, and emotional needs. Consider adding some me time to your routine to address your needs.

Many different forms of self-care can help you feel your best. Self-care can look like daily walks, catching up with a friend, embracing a new hobby, and even making healthcare appointments you’ve been putting off.

3. Sleep Seven to Nine Hours

When it comes to health goals, sleep might be the MVP. It’s no secret that good sleep hygiene helps you feel better day in and day out, yet many of us fall short of the recommended nightly hours. Poor sleep is associated with higher risks of chronic health concerns like high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease.1

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that the average adult gets 7-9 hours of sleep per night.2 Health goals that focus on healthy sleep patterns can support other measurable health objectives.

4. Take Care of Gut Health

Research continues to point to a connection between gut health and overall health. The gut-brain axis plays a role in mental health and immunity.3 Consider prioritizing your gut when designing health goals for the upcoming new year. Eat a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins, and consider adding a probiotic to your supplement stack.

5. Get Outside

The great outdoors has much to offer in terms of health benefits. Time in the sun allows you to soak up vitamin D, which plays a significant role in many avenues of health, and spending time in nature can help lessen anxiety and even improve your sleep. Consider setting a goal to spend time outside daily; mix it up with nature walks, outdoor yoga, hikes, and other favorite activities.

6. Workout Three Days a Week

The latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that the average healthy adult strives for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.4 You can break up those minutes however you like, but consider striving for at least three workout days per week.

The guidelines also suggest implementing two strength training days that involve all major muscle groups.4 While you may notice changes in your physical appearance, the health benefits extend far beyond such. Prioritizing fitness goals can help you feel your best by slowing the aging process, preventing muscle breakdown, and supporting bone health, among many other benefits.

7. Unplug From Technology

Most of us have some form of technology at our fingertips at all times, and while that can make life easier in many ways, it can also drain us mentally and emotionally. When our work, studies, and personal connections are available 24/7/365, our brains rarely get a chance to turn off.

Consider setting a goal to unplug from the phone and computer and be present in the moment. Maybe you set a goal to avoid picking up your phone until after your morning workout, or maybe you decide to turn off all technology at least two hours before bedtime. Find a system that works for your life and adjust as needed.

8. Try Art Therapy

Exploring creative outlets can help you express your innermost feelings and passions. Art therapy is often used to create coping mechanisms in times of distress, but you can explore your creative side at any time. Art can help reduce anxiety and stimulate brain function, helping you maximize your stress management techniques.

9. Lean into Supportive Relationships

A supportive community can make good times and challenging times more manageable. Implement health goals that encourage you to lean into quality friendships and build your community. Plan get-togethers and embrace the genuine care that comes with true friendship.

10. Stretch Daily

It may seem small, but stretching daily can be great for your overall health, especially if your job requires you to sit at a desk most of the day. Stretching your muscles gets the blood flowing and can help reduce the risk of injury as you pursue other fitness-related goals.

The Signos Way: A Blueprint for Reaching Your Health Goals

We invite you to learn more about setting and achieving health goals with our science-backed articles written from an expert perspective. Curious how long it takes to get fit again? Here’s what to know.

Healthy habits incorporate balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, stress management, and healthy sleep patterns. Learn more about these habits on Signos’ blog, and find out if Signos is a good fit for you by taking a quick quiz!

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="healthy-ingredients">20 Healthy Ingredients for Quick, Nutrient-Packed Meals</a>.</p>

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References

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?
  2. Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, et al. National Sleep Foundation's sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health. 2015;1(1):40-43. doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010
  3. Appleton J. The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018;17(4):28-32.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.

About the author

Chelsea Rae Bourgeois is a registered dietitian nutritionist with several years of experience working in the clinical setting. Once a track and field athlete on a competitive stage, she now finds joy in combining her passions as a health writer to help people embrace their wellness through nutrition and fitness.

View Author Bio

Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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