The traditional time for New Year’s resolutions has arrived. Health-related resolutions are common because it’s easy to neglect taking care of yourself. No matter your age or physical condition, you can incorporate changes — some big, some small — into your daily life to improve your heart health. Let’s take a look at seven simple ways to achieve a healthier heart in 2022:
1. See a doctor and ask questions about your heart health
It’s important for your heart health to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. High blood pressure is the single most modifiable risk factor for heart disease. Be sure that you know your blood pressure and have your doctor check your cholesterol to ensure it’s in the normal range (LDL less than 200). If your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are high, ask your doctor about how to modify your lifestyle to keep them in a normal range.
2. Eat a healthier diet
This popular resolution is an important one to focus on. A heart-healthy diet includes foods that are low in added sugars, salt, and saturated fat. Add fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fiber foods to your meals. Simple steps — including eating one extra fruit or veggie a day, cutting down on sugar-sweetened beverages, and choosing nuts instead of chips or cookies as snacks — can earn big dividends.
3. Exercise more
You knew this one was coming. Exercise is essential for your heart, but many of us don’t get enough physical activity. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. To eventually reach this goal, start with a brief activity — 10 to 15 minutes — five days a week and work up to 150 minutes per week. Biking, gardening, and a brisk walk are all enjoyable ways to hit this target.
4. Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
If you need to shed some pounds to reach a healthy weight or just need to maintain your current weight, the two resolutions above — a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise — will help you achieve your goal. If you’re overweight, of your body weight will lower your risk of heart disease.
5. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
If you need to shed some pounds to reach a optimal weight or just need to maintain your current weight, the two resolutions above — a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise — will help you achieve your goal. If you’re overweight, losing even 5% of your body weight will lower your risk of heart disease.
If you smoke, 2022 is the year to stop. Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of premature death in the U.S. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free guidance on setting up a plan to quit.
If you don’t smoke, avoid the harms caused by secondhand smoke by keeping your home smoke-free.
6. Manage your stress
Keeping stress in check will boost your hearth health. Set aside time each day to relax, and try to go to bed earlier to get more sleep. Meditation and deep breathing — breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes — are effective ways to lessen stress.
Keeping Your Resolutions
The hardest part of New Year’s resolutions is keeping them. Life gets busy, so it’s easy to backslide into old habits. The good news is that technology is making it easier than ever to receive reminders, stay motivated, and track your progress. Semler Health’s free Heart Club app features a step counter, a blood pressure recording, and medical record storage. Developed by Dr. Herbert J. Semler, a Mayo Clinic-trained cardiologist.