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Jan 04, 2012

A New Year for Heart Health

New years resolution tips for a healthier heart.

Upon ringing in the New Year, many of us reflect on the past year and set new goals for the coming months. Whether we want to make changes within our families, careers or relationships, we all strive to better ourselves. Although priorities may differ from one person to the next, we all have one thing in common — our health. But addressing our own health is often the first thing to fall by the wayside in the midst of our busy lives. How can we ensure that we stick to our guns and really set out to improve our health over the next year and beyond? Be sure to choose goals that are measurable and easy to incorporate into your daily life, yet have the greatest impact on your health and wellness. Need some ideas? Here are some great New Year’s resolutions that will not only help promote good health but make you feel great too!

  1. If you are a smoker, make a plan to quit. By quitting smoking, you can cut your cardiovascular risk in half in a short time and eventually reduce your risk to that of a non-smoker. But most importantly, you don’t have to do it alone. Although some individuals may prefer to quit cold turkey, there are a number of ways to help make quitting smoking a little bit easier, from nicotine replacement therapies to support groups. See our tips and resources for quitting smoking.
  1. Improve your diet. Research has shown that a few simple changes can really make a big impact on your health. By reducing your sodium intake and limiting intake of processed foods, you can help reduce or control your blood pressure. And by replacing those high-sodium processed foods with more lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, you can help improve your heart health and feel more satisfied after meals. But if you’re not ready to ditch your guilty pleasures, try to reduce your portion sizes or find lower-calorie alternatives.
  1. Increase your physical activity. Incorporating more physical activity into your daily life, from cleaning the house to walking or biking, can help greatly improve your cardiovascular health. You only need about 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week to make an impact, so set aside a little time each day to do an activity that you enjoy that gets you up and moving.
  1. Improve communication with your healthcare provider. Research has shown that patients having a good relationship with their healthcare providers receive better care and are happier with the care they receive. So take a few minutes to think about what appointments you need to schedule and any concerns that you would like to discuss with your doctors this year. For some tips and tools to improve communication with your provider, see the “Questions are the Answer” site from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.