2018 was a big year for thinking about physical activity goals. The Department of Health and Human Services released updated guidelines for how much physical activity is recommended based on the discordance between 80% of American adults being too inactive and much research about how much exercise improves health. In fact, about 8% of deaths could be prevented solely by exercising the recommended amount. So, what should your resolution be? Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. A good way to think about the intensity is that moderate intensity exercise is where you’re exercising to the point where you can only speak in short sentences and wouldn’t be able to sing a tune. Vigorous exercise is to the point where you can only say 2-3 words at a time because you’re breathing is so heavy. If you’re not sure whether you’re healthy enough to start an exercise plan, talk to your doctor about it. Exercise is a powerful medicine that can work for everyone, which is why we prescribe it as RxErcise!
No one is perfect. With that in mind, no one should feel guilty about what they’ve eaten over the past year. However, now is the time to think back and better yet, think forward. Forget about calorie counting or the newest diet fad. Make a resolution to make a small manageable change to your eating habits that you can do. Don’t say you’re going to cut out all desserts or all fried food. Start with something you can sustain such as one of the following high impact options:
1) Including “meatless Monday” in your weekly menu
2) Going one week per month without red meat
3) Drinking seltzer instead of full-calorie soda
3. Keep a gratitude journal
Most people have stress and negativity in their lives in one form or another. While a certain amount of stress is good and can be motivating, too much can be harmful. Stress is a prime example of how the mind and body are connected. It contributes toward mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, but also is known to be a risk factor for physical health issues such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Furthermore, it’s unrealistic to think that people can go through life without any upsets, bad days, or sadness. Since these things are so ubiquitous, learning ways to de-stress and stay positive are crucial to maintaining a happy, healthy life. One suggestion that will help change your perspective on things is to keep a daily gratitude journal, something made popular by Oprah. By jotting down a brief daily account of the things you’re grateful for that day, you’ll soon see how much of a difference it makes. Make a resolution to spend 5 minutes each day writing down these thoughts and feel free to make it a family activity!
4. Stop smoking
If you’re still smoking, this isn’t about shaming you into stopping or making you feel guilty about it. Although significantly less people are smokers today than there have been in the past, smoking is absolutely the number 1 thing you need to change in order to improve your health if you’re still doing it. It increases your risk of heart disease by 3 times and some types of cancers by over 10 times, according to a recent report by the Surgeon General. Vaping has come onto the scene by trying to replace traditional cigarettes as a “safe” option. Yes, it’s true that vaping probably isn’t as bad as smoking cigarettes, but it still has nicotine and other chemicals that increase the risk of heart disease among other adverse effects. Quitting smoking is easier said than done, but there are many resources out there to help you do it. It’s never too late to stop and never too early to try.
5. Confront your health
Although a body part often kept hidden, the “but” is ever present in people’s lexicons when discussing health. Make a resolution to look in the mirror and confront your health, for better or worse, with no “buts” about it. Start by making an appointment to talk to your doctor about where you stand. But you feel fine? With heart disease in particular, it may be too late when you start to feel symptoms. But you’re so young? When you’re young is exactly when to start thinking about your health; that way, you won’t be thinking about your diagnoses. Preventing heart disease with lifestyle changes to lose weight, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and more all starts decades before when someone’s first heart attack would happen. 80% of heart disease is preventable and time is your best friend. But your primary doctor didn’t mention anything about it? Primary doctors in the US have about 17 minutes to cover 15 topics, on average. It’s not really possible to address all of your health issues at just one of these health maintenance visits. At Heartbeat, we’d love to meet you to talk in depth about your personal risk factors for heart disease, the #1 cause of death in the US killing more people than all cancers combined. Visit our website to start your risk assessment and get in touch with us to find out how we can turn this resolution into a reality!
Happy New Year! If you have questions about your health, ask us here. May 2019 be your happiest, healthiest year yet!