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Healthy You

5 heart health resolutions for the new year

Friday, January 12, 2024 3:59 PM

By Endeavor Health

Resolutions, no matter how small, can be great challenges.

They motivate us to try something different, inspired by the fresh start of a new calendar year.

Some of the most common — losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking or drinking less alcohol — can benefit your heart if you stick with them.

Woman holding hands over heart

The thought of a lifestyle overhaul can be overwhelming, so start small and work your way up. Making gradual changes over time will benefit your heart and you can build on your success.

When you decide what you want to attempt this coming year, consider some of the heart-healthy resolutions on this list:

  1. Quit smoking. Smokers, it’s time to quit. Seriously. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking can damage the lining of your blood vessels, causing clots to form and restricting blood flow. Quitting smoking has many health benefits and decreases your risk for heart disease.
  2. Exercise. The American Heart Association notes that 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity benefits your heart. How? Exercise can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level — all of which lower your risk for heart disease. If you don’t exercise, start. It may take time to develop a regular exercise habit, but starting small is better than doing nothing. It can be as simple as a 10-minute walk, three times a day. Make this the month you get moving!
  3. Adopt a heart-healthy diet. What you eat affects your health. Be sure your diet includes plenty of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, skinless poultry and fish, whole grains, nuts and legumes, and low-fat dairy. Limit sugary treats and drinks, saturated and trans fats, red meats and foods that are high in salt content.
  4. Manage health conditions. Certain health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol can increase your risk for heart disease. If diet and exercise alone don’t bring these conditions into a healthy range, consult with your doctor to see if medications can help and be sure to take those medications as directed. Regular checkups also will help catch any signs of heart disease early.
  5. Reduce stress. Studies have shown a relationship between heart disease and stress. Stress can also lead to other behaviors, such as smoking or overeating, which increase your risk for heart disease. Regular exercise and a good night’s rest can help reduce stress levels. If stress becomes overwhelming, consider talking to your doctor about other things you can do to stress less.

Your heart is in good hands when you choose Endeavor Health Cardiovascular Institute. Learn more.

NorthShore University HealthSystem, Swedish Hospital, Northwest Community Healthcare and Edward-Elmhurst Health are now united under one name, Endeavor Health. We’re setting a new standard for healthcare that’s focused on you, because your best health is our endeavor. Learn more.