Are you one of the millions of Americans who set resolutions each year? As 2022 gets underway, why not add a few goals for your heart health to the list?
Each year, many people set goals to improve their health, usually with “big picture” resolutions about getting more exercise or eating better. And each year, by the time January ends, most of those resolutions have been left behind!
But resolutions aren’t useless—if they’re used correctly. If you’re looking to actually take steps to improve your health in 2022, you’ll want to set strategic goals. Make those goals manageably small, realistic and obtainable.
So, if you’re looking to improve your heart health this year, what types of goals should you have? Read on as Tommy Miller, MD, cardiologist with West Tennessee Medical Group, offers a few suggestions.
Resolutions for Your Heart Health
If most resolutions fail, what’s the secret to finding success? It’s all about taking your goals in bitesize, doable segments.
To improve your heart health, try these suggestions:
Move more. You probably know that you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. If you break that down, it’s a little more than 20 minutes per day. Totally doable, right?
But beyond getting in workouts, it’s beneficial to your heart to simply move more. Get up and walk around the office, park farther away from the store, take the stairs, or even simply fidget in your desk chair.
While those actions may seem inconsequential, in the long run, those bursts of activity help give your heart health a boost.
Eat your veggies. You probably heard this bit of advice from your mom growing up. But it’s important in adulthood, too.
Experts recommend filling half your plate at meals with vegetables and fruit. Choose a variety of veggies for best results—in different colors, even. Those hues are more than color; different colored veggies contain unique and distinct nutrients.
Vegetables are also packed with antioxidants, which are good for your heart. Don’t love veggies? Try adding an extra serving into your diet for a week or two, then build from there. Season them with potent herbs and spices or citric acids to enhance the flavor.
Brush your teeth. Why are we talking about teeth in an article about the heart? For good reason, actually!
There’s a known correlation between gum disease and heart disease. While researchers aren’t quite sure why, those who have gum disease are more likely to develop heart health issues.
So, protect your heart by protecting your teeth! Brush your teeth twice daily, floss daily, and see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
Find ways to relieve stress. We are living in incredibly stressful times, where burnout is more and more common. But that doesn’t mean you have to live in super-stressed mode all the time.
A small amount of stress is totally normal and can even be beneficial, but too much stress or stress that sticks around can be a negative. It even has a direct effect on your heart—when you experience stress, your pulse increases and your blood pressure rises.
Don’t turn to unhealthy crutches like comfort food or smoking when you’re stressed. Instead, build in healthy routines that help manage stress, such as regular exercise, hobbies and quality sleep. While you can’t totally get rid of stress, these types of activities, and others like meditation, can help manage its effects.
Know your numbers. When’s the last time you had a checkup? If it’s been a while, get one on the books!
Keeping careful track of where your heart health stands is an important part of staying healthy. During an annual checkup, you can have tests and lab work done to check your blood pressure, your cholesterol and your blood sugar, which are all important markers of heart health.
Knowing those numbers can help you and your doctor determine how to keep your heart healthy as you get older. If all is well, that’s great! But if there are any red flags, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medication or regular visits with a cardiologist.
Could your heart use a checkup? Make today the day you schedule an appointment with a West Tennessee Medical Group cardiologist! Find a provider.