The New Year starts today, and for many, this means a fresh start. Many take advantage of this by creating resolutions for themselves. These resolutions vary from person to person, but two of the more popular resolutions focus on important health issues.
People work out for various reasons, but the most prevalent cited reason goes to keeping fit and getting healthy.
Meg Pickard, the wellness director at the Jamestown YMCA, urged people not wait when it comes to going to the gym.
"There is a lot of hurtles, but the main one is scheduling," Pickard acknowledged. " ... They keep letting other things interfere. They got to make themselves a priority. They have to have the mindset. If the mindset isn't there, they will not follow through."
She said one of the best things a person can do when joining is to sign up for an exercise class due to their peers holding them accountable.
For those joining for the first time, Pickard said to take it slow.
"You can crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run kind of idea," she said. "People tend to bite off too much. They think they'll lose all the weight that they have to lose in two weeks. It doesn't happen that way. If it takes more than a year to get it on, its going to take more than a year to get it off."
For those who are new to the gym or the YMCA in general, Pickard says to take advantage of the YMCA's three free fitness orientations available to new members.
The YMCA in Jamestown can be found at 101 E. Fourth St. and is open today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Rest of the year, its hours is 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
Quitting smoking cannot be done overnight. It takes planning, preparation, courage and determination.
According to a press release by the Southern Tier Health Care System, while nearly 70 percent of smokers report they want to quit, most smokers who make a New Year's resolution to quit don't stay smoke free for very long. A study by the University of Scranton found that about 45 percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions but only 8 percent are successful in achieving them.
Donna Kahm, president and CEO of Southern Tier Health Care System, said smokers should plan how they will quit and build a personal support system for themselves before they try to quit smoking.
"Quitting smoking is very difficult but fortunately, help is available," she said. "Smokers should contact the New York state Smokers' Quitline or talk to their doctor for advice, support and possibly medication to give themselves the best chance for success. Medicaid can even help with the cost of medication."
Quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to reduce his or her risk of cancer. According to an American Cancer Society estimate, 60 percent of cancers could be avoided if people stopped using tobacco. Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in New York State, taking more than 25,000 lives every year.
Erica Sebastian, tobacco cessation center coordinator, urged smokers to look beyond making a New Year's resolution to quit.
"Quitting smoking takes a lot of work and resolve," she said. "Make a plan, get support and keep trying until you succeed."
For a free personalized quit plan, contact the New York state Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or www.nysmokefree.com. For more information about the Tobacco Cessation Center at Southern Tier Health Care System, please visit www.sthcs.org or call Sebastian at 372-0614.