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Men's Health

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5 Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Men

Experts share their thoughts on the top 5 things men can do to get healthy in the new year

New Year's Resolution No. 4: Quit Smoking

Giving the nicotine habit the boot is one of the most popular resolutions for both men and women. It is a difficult task, and for some people, success does not come until after multiple tries.

Experts say the best way to deal with the problem is to get help. "You get no extra points for being macho," says Brott.

There are a number of resources for support. You may visit your primary care doctor and/or join a smoking cessation program in person, online, or by phone. You may consider medication, or nicotine replacements such as patches, gums, sprays, inhalers, and lozenges. Or you may contact groups such as the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health for help.

Robert Stenander, corporate services clinician for the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, recommends face-to-face support groups. The personal interaction, he says, can help raise accountability, and can provide vital social connections.

"You can describe and talk about what your issues are with regard to your smoking cessation, and you've got other people who may be able to give you some hints and suggestions as to what they've encountered," says Stenander.

A relapse is a real possibility, but it's important to look forward and avoid negative thinking. "Don't give up," says Stenander. "Don't get yourself in a defeatist attitude that you can't do something. Let's talk about what you can do."

If one smoking cessation method doesn't work for you, try another one. You may also consider different support groups as some may work better than others.

Don't forget that you can also enlist the support of family and friends. Many former smokers have found loved ones as a vital source of encouragement.

New Year's Resolution No. 5: Ease Stress

Got stress? Who doesn't? Men have their lion's share partly because society hasn't given them the freedom to process pressures that well, says Bonhomme. "A lot of times men will hold things inside ... they won't talk about them."

The pent-up negative feelings can cause feelings of anger and hopelessness, promote destructive behavior, or manifest themselves in physical ailments. Research shows stress can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular, nervous, immune, and digestive systems.

Bonhomme suggests exercise as a "masculine" way of relieving tension: "If you've had a stressful day and you work out, you burn off stress hormones."

It also helps to identify what is causing the stress, and try to deal with the issue, says Brott. Sometimes, he says this may mean talking to your girlfriend, wife, or a minister.

If none of these methods work, talk with your doctor, or a psychologist.

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Reviewed on November 30, 2007

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