New Year, New You: Top 6 Heart-Healthy Resolutions
Think New Year's resolutions are cliché? Think again! The New Year is a great time to make changes that will improve your life. But in order to succeed, you have to be realistic and pick something that really matters to you.
This year, consider making resolutions specific to your heart health. Focusing on what's good for your heart will not only decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, but it will also implement healthy habits that will increase your happiness, improve your overall health, and decrease stress.
Top 6 Resolutions for Heart Health
1. Assess Your Risk
Understanding what risk factors contribute to heart disease is the first step to beginning a heart-healthy lifestyle. Know which risk factors you can and can't control and then make a plan for how to reduce your risk.
- Risk factors you CAN'T change: age, gender, heredity and race/ethnicity.
- Risk factors you CAN change: cholesterol, diet, exercise, smoking, weight, diabetes, blood pressure and stress.
> Learn more about the risk factors for heart disease.
> Find out if you're at risk for heart disease; assess your risk now.
2. Know Your Numbers
Since high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are major heart disease risk factors that you have some control over, it's important to know your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides), and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.
3. Aim for a Healthy Weight
Don't discount the impact that weight loss can have on your health. According to the National Institutes of Health, a healthy lifestyle can help lower heart disease risk by 82%. If you don't know your ideal weight, ask your doctor.
> See more ways that weight affects your health.
4. Get Moving
Make a commitment to be more physically active. Every day, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity such as taking a brisk walk, dancing, light weight lifting, house cleaning or gardening. Once you get in the habit, exercise becomes more than a healthy activity. It becomes a part of your life. In addition, exercise can help decrease your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
> Read the American Heart Association's tips for getting active.
5. Eat for Heart Health
The foods you eat have a huge impact on your health. When you improve your eating habits, you improve your overall health and reduce your risk for heart disease. Choose a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and cholesterol. Be sure to include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
> Visit the American Heart Association's Nutrition Center for tips on heart-healthy eating.
6. Cut Out Unhealthy Vices
Quit smoking or avoid second-hand smoke. People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers. Also, drink alcohol in moderation—one drink per day for women, two for men. Drinking more alcohol increases such dangers as alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and accidents.
> Get tips for quitting smoking from the American Heart Association.
What's Your Risk?
Use our assessment tool to find out if you're at risk for developing heart disease.Assess your risk now
Who's at Risk?
Certain populations are at a greater risk for heart disease.Know the facts
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