January heralds the start of a new year and is the opportune time to reflect on the past and decide on any changes which you may wish to make for the future.
The ritual of making New Year resolutions began circa 153 BC when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar. The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back, thus he could look backward and forward at the same time.
So, at midnight on 31 December, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new, which led to the introduction of resolutions.
Nowadays, resolutions are synonymous with the New Year and the most common are those associated with health. These include losing weight and taming the festive bulge, quitting alcohol and/or smoking and generally getting fit.
An easy and completely inexpensive way of exercising, which in turn will help to trim the post-Christmas waistline, is to take up walking. An investigation into the walking habits of 299 volunteers over a four year period has shown that people who walk at least six miles a week have larger brains and a better memory capacity by the time they reach retirement age than their non-walking counterparts.
The research, which was undertaken at the University of Pittsburgh, concluded, at the end of the four-year trial, that 40% of the volunteers had developed cognitive impairment of dementia but those who walked the most had cut their risk in half.