Live slow, eat poorly? Even if you’ve made mistake, research says making changes could improve your heart health, even if it’s later in life. Replacing bad habits with good ones can stop and maybe reverse past damage.
Here are some examples of the changes researchers studied. Each one you pick will help better your heart health:
Having A Healthy Weight
Weight control is a matter of diet and nutrition, so:
Try This: Did you enjoy the World Cup? Make TV watching an opportunity to stretch and exercise. Stand up, stretch, practicing kicking a ball between your feet
Try This: Skip the sugary, caffeinated afternoon pick-me-ups, and try a heart supporting tea like Jiaogulan instead.
Try This: Rewire your brain by replacing smoking with a different habit each time you want to reach for one. Oral fixation? Try reaching for lollipops, carrots, or some other candy that will dissolve slowly and you can play with (warheads, lemon heads, taffys).
Be Physically Active
Standing is a big one that makes regular rounds in the headlines. The two biggest activities stressing American’s hearts, headlines read, are your desk job and TV time.
Try This: A standing desk at work will improve circulation and be better for your heart. Similarly, a standing activity (painting? a high craft table? exercise?) while watching TV makes it a better activity. I assume the same goes for reading, you just aren’t going to see a headline about it. So try a lectern.
It’s best not to drink, but if you’re going to, keep it to a small amount (1 glass) daily rather than bingeing, which is much harder on your body. But if you quit altogether, you can probably lose 5-10 pounds (helping you reach a healthy weight!).
Try This: When you’re planning your meals, pick one that you’ll replace with something healthy. Peanut butter on celery instead of cookies, a lean chicken dish over a creamy pasta one, etc.
All that said, it works the other way too. If you’ve had good habits, switching to bad ones will be hard on your heart.
And two bonus tips:
-A happy marriage leads to a healthier heart.
-Women need to be more proactive than men, especially after a cardiac event, because doctors are less likely to spend the time enforcing good behaviors (like those above!).
Which habits are you working on, and what’s your strategy?