New Year’s Resolutions and New Potential for Injury

Once the ball has dropped and the champagne has been finished, many treat the new year as a time to reflect on the past and set intentions for the coming year. More than half of adults make resolutions at the new year. New Year’s resolutions can range from simple behavioral shifts, like making the bed each morning, to major life changes involving body, career, or relationships. According to a survey of 2,000 people, the most common ten resolutions among Americans were to diet, exercise more, lose weight, save money, learn a new skill, quit smoking, read more books, find a new job, drink fewer alcoholic beverages, and spend more time with friends and family. [1]

However, although roughly 60 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, far fewer are able to follow through on their plans. Fewer than one out of ten people who make New Year’s resolutions keep the promise they make to themselves on January 1. There are a few tips to keep in mind when trying to stick to a New Year’s resolution. For starters, don’t set an unattainable goal. Keep your resolution small and achievable. Don’t be hard on yourself if you experience setbacks on the way to personal growth. Finally, talk about your experience with friends and family, and ask for support when you need it. Change is hard, and your support network is there to help you through the difficult times. [2]

However, keeping resolutions can be problematic as well. Exercise, one of the top ten yearly resolutions among adults, is a common source of injury. Some of the most common injuries associated with exercise include a strained back, strained shoulder, injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, and a pulled or torn hamstring. You are more likely to suffer any of these injuries if you attempt to try a new exercise, or if you take on too much too quickly. In order to avoid exercise-related injuries, stretch after exercising, build strength slowly, use proper technique (and have an expert show you what that looks like), and let your body fully recover after workouts. [3]

Fad diets can be dangerous as well, and a potential source of injury. Some examples of fad diets include the Atkins diet, the zone diet, the south beach diet, the master cleanse, and the paleo diet. Fad diets promise a quick fix and magical weight loss, implying that the food you choose to eat can permanently change your metabolism. They may provide short-term gains, but they are generally unsustainable, and they can deprive your body of the basic nutrients and building blocks it needs to thrive.  Fad diets can result in weakness, nausea, dehydration, constipation, and malnutrition. [4] The bottom line is that fad diets can make your body sick, and they don’t work very well. 98 percent of people who lose weight on a fad diet gain the weight back within five years, and 90 percent of people gain back more weight than they lost in the first place. [5]

Both diet and exercise are key milestones on the quest toward the holy grail of New Year’s resolutions: weight loss. However, while losing weight can be beneficial for many health conditions, as well as self-image, there are serious risks of injury associated with extreme weight loss. Dehydration is a common, but very preventable, side effect of weight loss. Malnutrition, usually due to a lack of protein, is also common. Gallstones occur in between 12 percent and 25 percent of people who lose large amounts of weight over the course of several months. Rapid weight loss can also result in headaches, fatigue, dizziness, menstrual irregularity, hair loss, and muscle loss. [6] Rapid weight loss can even put enough stress on the heart to substantially increase the risk of heart attack and death. [7]

A final set of resolutions intended to reap personal health benefits are those associated with reducing or quitting drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol use. Addressing any of these habits can have measurable benefits for your physical and mental well-being, but there are risks involved as well. Quitting after using drugs or alcohol regularly for a long period of time will likely result in mental, emotional, or physical symptoms of withdrawal, possibly including anxiety, depression, headaches, heart palpitations, sweating, muscle twitches, etc. Alcohol and tranquilizers can produce dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and hallucinations. It is extremely important to seek medical support when your New Year’s resolution involves breaking a long-time drug habit in order to avoid serious illness, injury, or relapse. [8]

Whatever you choose for your New Year’s resolutions this year, make sure that you set manageable goals and address them in a safe and responsible manner. Tell your friends about your resolutions and have a support network in place that can assist you in meeting your goals safely. Seek help when necessary, which includes getting a proper medical opinion before embarking on any of the potentially risky projects described above. If you do suffer an injury or other setback, seek appropriate medical attention and consider whether you need to consult with a personal injury attorney due to the negligence or intentional wrongdoing of a third party.









Image Credit:  Nathan Clark of United State Air Force

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