During the first month of the year, many people make resolutions to improve themselves in the new year. This year, put improving your heart health on your list. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18.2 million adults over the age of 20 have coronary heart disease. And each year, 805,000 Americans have a heart attack. So, you can see why it’s important to develop heart-healthy habits in the new year.
1. Change Up Your Workouts
If you don’t already have an exercise routine, start one this year. If you already have a regimen, then try new things to prevent boredom or burnout. Take a new class to learn a new form of exercise. Get fresh air and move your workout outside. If you’re already exercising outdoors, find a new route to bike or run.
2. Add More Fruits & Vegetables to Your Diet
If you are trying to stay healthy to prevent heart disease, then you can also benefit from making sure you’re getting balanced nutrition. Most people don’t get enough fruits and vegetables during the day. Add a serving of fruit or vegetables to each meal and pack them as snacks to keep you going throughout the day.
3. Try New Protein Sources
Getting your protein from lean meat, poultry, and fish is always a good idea. However, this year expand your protein palate to include more plant-based protein sources. Beans, peas, and lentils are some great choices, as are seeds and nuts.
4. Get Plenty of Fiber From Carbohydrates
If you have already started to develop heart-healthy habits, you have probably switched to whole grain varieties of bread, cereals, and pasta. To take the next step, try and find carbohydrates that contain more fiber and nutrients. Make it a goal for the new year to branch out and eat more intact whole grains like quinoa, oats, or brown rice rather than only using them as wheat alternatives in other foods.
5. Stop Smoking
When it comes to your health, especially your cardiovascular health, smoking is one of the worst habits to have. And that won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Stopping smoking is near the top of every health improvement checklist. Make this the year you come up with a plan to stop smoking. Consult your doctor for recommendations on the method that might be right for you.
6. Aim for a Healthy Weight
Carrying extra weight increases the risk of developing diabetes and can put a strain on the heart. Talk to your doctor about the healthiest weight loss plan is for you. It should include a balanced diet and physical activity. Weight loss goals can seem daunting, but losing even 5% or 10% of your body weight can make a big difference.
7. Monitor How Much Alcohol You Drink
Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease. This year, pay attention to how much you drink and limit your consumption to protect your health. Men shouldn’t have more than two drinks per day and women shouldn’t have more than one drink per day.
8. Start Taking an Omega 3 Supplement
Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent high blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. These crucial nutrients are found in oily fish like salmon, sardines, and herring. However, not many people eat enough fish to get enough omega-3 fatty acids. Finding a fish oil supplement that’s molecularly distilled is a simple heart-healthy habit for the new year.
9. Take Care of Your Mental and Emotional Health
Mental and emotional distress have both been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Stress, depression, and anxiety can affect your heart’s health. This year, make it a priority to pay attention to your mental health as much of a priority as your physical health. Set aside time to take care of yourself and if you are having difficulties with depression or anxiety, seek help from a professional.
10. See Your Doctor Regularly
One of the best heart-healthy habits you can have this year is to see your doctor as recommended. If you have a heart condition, you should keep up-to-date with your physicians to manage your condition. If you’re trying to avoid heart disease, keep your appointments for regular physicals and other preventative care.
Dr. Farhan Majeed of Pulse: The Heart, Valve and Vascular Institute specializes in reducing cardiovascular risk factors to prevent disease, diagnosing and treating common and complex illnesses, and utilizing interventional therapies to treat heart conditions. To schedule an appointment, call (941) 629-2111.