SALT LAKE CITY (Good Things Utah) — A new year is a great time to start thinking about improving and protecting our health. Healthy eating and sleeping habits are great places to start. Regular exercise is an important component, too.

Free public resources like the Optum Community Centers are great ways to help improve your health, but you can also work out in the comfort of your own home!

What are some strategies people can keep in mind, to help improve or protect their health in the new year?

Paying attention to the things we put into our bodies is a good place to start. We focus a lot on food, but beverages are important to be mindful of, too.

Choose your drinks wisely: Whenever possible, substitute water for sugary beverages like sodas. This is an easy way to keep your calorie intake down. As for food, though, strive for a mix of fruits and vegetables and whole grains with meals.

One easy tip: Try to make half your plate at dinner time consist of fruits and vegetables, and you’ll be well on your way.

Are there other tips to help us stay healthy?

Getting enough sleep every night gives your body the time it needs to recharge and reset for the day ahead. Adults really need at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

Another thing that we may not always think of is: Being aware of your family health history. A lot of conditions are hereditary or are more likely if someone else in your family is diagnosed.

So, talk to your family members, understand their conditions, and let your doctor know.

What about exercise?

Physical activity is important at any age, from early childhood when much of our bodies are still growing and developing, to our elder years, to help maintain overall health. As we age, our bodies change, too, along with our overall health needs.

For older adults, regular physical activity becomes one of the most important ways to safeguard your health.

For most seniors, a great option is visiting one of the Optum Community Centers, where we hold a variety of classes for seniors, with everything from line dancing to chair yoga. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to get your recommended amount of physical activity during the week.

These classes are absolutely free and open to anyone in the community ages 55 and over.

How do I sign up for community center classes?

The great thing is you don’t have to sign up! Just visit to find a location close to you, and class schedules, find a course you’re interested and show up!

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