It’s no secret that the beginning of the year is a time when the attention of many turns to improving health. After the indulgent holiday season, the new year often begins with a resolve to make some changes. This is why resolutions to eat healthier and get more exercise consistently top the charts. After all, everyone wants to be healthy. Unfortunately, only 8 percent of individuals, on average, actually stick to their resolutions for the long term.
This year, instead of setting resolutions that are too restrictive and bound to fail, focus on making moderate, more easily attained changes in lifestyle that will boost physical health and overall wellbeing. To begin, here are five that will put you on the right track:
Focus on Cardiovascular Exercise
There are many different forms of exercise, and the body can benefit from each one. Strength training, for instance, is a great way to lose weight and keep it off. It also improves body mechanics and helps protect against bone and muscle loss. However, cardiovascular exercise is particularly important for the role it plays in strengthening and protecting the heart. When performing such exercises, the heart and lungs are better able to deliver oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, and major heart-health risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol are better controlled.
Fortunately, there are many activities, some which you may even consider a hobby, that are capable of providing a good cardiovascular workout. These may include running, cycling, swimming, dancing, skiing, or sports such as tennis or basketball.
Schedule Your Recommended Tests & Procedures
Being healthy means keeping a watchful eye on what may be happening inside your body. Of course, the only way to know this for sure is by keeping up with important health screenings. A simple annual physical can reveal a lot about how the body is functioning and can clue both physician and patient in to any potential problems that may be lurking. During the exam, a doctor will check factors such as blood pressure, heart and lung function, and blood work.
Set Manageable Rules around Eating
Diets are destined to fail due their restrictive nature. Most can stick with a diet for a while and even see results, but carrying such eating habits out into the long-term is rarely a realistic expectation. Instead, focus on moderation and generally healthy options. Choose non-processed snacks and whole grains, and minimize sugar whenever possible. Rather than reaching for a soda, opt for flavored, carbonated water, and keep your plate colorful with fruits and vegetables to help maintain a healthy balance. Eating healthy does not have to mean severely restricting yourself. It just means making the best choices.
Stop Using all Tobacco Products
While most changes for better health can be made in moderation, the use of tobacco is an exception. Habits such as smoking greatly increase the risk for nearly every major health concern including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Smoking less is not a viable alternative when the goal is to improve health. And, while this may be the most difficult change on the list, it is far from impossible. Many have already completed the journey to quit smoking by using readily available support programs such as Commit to Quit at CIS. These programs use services with well-documented success rates such as therapy, medication, and medical guidance to help smokers kick the habit once and for all.
Keep Stress in Check
The negative health effects of stress are well-documented. Aside from contributing to mental health concerns such as depression, stress can also affect the body physically, weakening the immune system and increasing the risk of high blood pressure and even heart attack. Of course, everyone will feel stressed from time-to-time, but learning how to control it is fairly simple. Practices such as yoga and mindfulness help balance both the mind and body and have been shown to greatly reduce stress. And, the simple act of recognizing triggers for stress and addressing such situations appropriately can help significantly.
A healthy lifestyle is far more achievable than many believe. It doesn’t often have to involve drastic changes that are nearly impossible to stick with. Minor changes and a focus on healthy choices are all it takes to get on the right track.
If you are ready to make 2018 your year for health and wellness, contact Cardiovascular Institute of the South, where our teams are available to support your efforts by helping you monitor and maintain your heart health or eliminate tobacco use. Simply click below to request your appointment.