15 Heart-Healthy New Year's Resolutions (Infographic)

Happy New Year! A new year means it’s time for a new you. Get yourself together and make a New Year’s resolution for better health. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at these heart healthy New Year’s resolutions that will keep you on the right track all year long.

Heart Healthy New Year's Resolutions | UnityPoint Health - Peoria

1. Drink More Water

A recent study indicated that a diet with excess sugar can put extra stress on the heart’s tissue, making it easier for damage to occur. Drinking water often keeps you from drinking calorie-loaded pop and keeps the excess sugar out of your system. Also, drinking your calories makes you feel less satisfied than if you ate them.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Start carrying a refillable water bottle.

  • Slowly replace one sugary drink with water each week until you cut almost all high-calorie drinks from your diet.

  • Add slices of cucumber, strawberry, lemon or orange to change the flavor of your water.

2. Quit Smoking

Now is the best time to kick the habit of smoking. Smoking increases your risk of cancer and heart disease.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Write down why you want to quit smoking and look at it every time you feel like you want to smoke.

  • Join a support group.

  • Create your own quit plan.

3. Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are all high in things like fiber, vitamins and minerals. Not only will you be getting all of the nutrients you need with these foods, but you’ll also be cutting your calories. Limiting calories helps to control weight, which reduces the likelihood of developing heart disease, hypertension and heart failure.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Keep your kitchen filled with fresh, dried, frozen or canned fruits and veggies.

  • Canned fruits and vegetables should be rinsed off as they often contain extra salt and sugar.

  • Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables each meal.

  • Compare food labels when buying anything except fresh produce.

  • There can be hidden ingredients in some products.

  • Experiment with steaming, grilling, sautéing, roasting, baking and microwaving your veggies as these are the healthiest ways to cook them.

4. Manage Your Stress

Stress causes a large amount of physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, headaches, tight muscles and forgetfulness. Many people resort to eating, drinking alcohol, not sleeping and overworking themselves to try and cope. Stress can take a toll on your body as a whole, and on your heart.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Use positive self-talk every day to control stress with phrases like “I can do this” or “I know how to deal with this”.

  • In times of extreme stress, take a moment before you react. Count to 10, take four or five deep breaths, walk away or go for a walk.

  • Do one thing you enjoy every day.

5. Eat Out Less

While your body needs salt to function, it’s not necessarily the salt you’re eating at home that has become a problem. Restaurants and fast food locations have notoriously high levels of salt in their diet. Excess salt increases the possibility of developing high blood pressure and can lead to heart disease and stroke. It’s impossible to completely avoid eating out, but there are steps you can take to reduce the salt in your diet when you do.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Go to restaurants where your food is cooked to order and specifically ask for less or no salt.

  • Don’t use the salt on the table and limit how much you use high-salt condiments like soy sauce, pickles and olives.

6. Buy Less Processed Foods

Processed foods often contain aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, excess salt and hydrogenated oils. Your body doesn’t need these chemicals. More than 75% of the salt in the average American’s diet come from processed foods.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Buy less boxed and packaged foods and try to cook more often.

  • Read food labels to look for any hidden sugars and salts.

  • Buy more fresh fruits and veggies.

  • Learn more about the Salty Six from the American Heart Association.

7. Eat More Fiber

Fiber helps digestion and keeps your feeling full longer, which also helps you manage your weight! High-fiber foods can contribute to reducing your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, by lowering bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Replace foods you currently eat with whole grain options. Try whole-grain pasta, brown or wild rice, whole-grain cereals and whole-grain or corn tortillas to start.

8. Exercise More

It’s recommended that everyone exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, every day. Your heart is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised just like any other muscle in your body.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Start by walking.

  • Slowly increase the intensity levels of your workout, but make sure not to overdo yourself.

  • Talk with your doctor about an exercise that would be right for you.

9. Discover Your Family History

Knowing your background can assist you in learning about the risk factors that may run in your family. This way, you are on the look-out for anything that might be an early warning sign.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Set-up time to talk to each family member about their medical history individually and take notes.

  • Visit your doctor to talk about what you found.

10. Limit Alcohol

Even though many studies have linked the benefits of drinking things like red wine in moderation, the correlation isn’t high enough to start drinking if you haven’t before. Excessive alcohol can increase the amount of fat you have in your blood, which can cause an increase in high blood pressure and the risk of heart failure.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • People tend to drink more at home than they do when they go out. Slowly replace the alcohol in your home with other healthy drink options.

  • If you’re having a party, offer non-alcoholic drinks next to the alcoholic options.

  • Buy smaller glasses. This will limit the amount of alcohol that you can drink at one time.

11. Cut Down on Caffeine

Caffeine aggravates stress and raises your blood pressure, which can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Cut back slowly by mixing together caffeine-free and caffeinated coffee or adding more water to your coffee every day.

  • Switch things up by drinking tea in different flavors.

  • Slowly cut down on how much pop you drink a day.

12. Go to the Dentist

Studies have shown that people who develop periodontal disease are two times more likely to develop heart disease.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Brush and floss your teeth regularly.

  • Schedule regular dental appointments every six months.

  • Watch out for bleeding gums.

13. Sleep More

Researchers are making a connection between lack of sleep and heart disease. Not getting enough sleep can cause plaque to build up in your arteries by increasing hormone levels in your body.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even if you don’t have anything on your agenda.

  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine.

  • Don’t take naps.

  • Spend an hour before bed doing a relaxing activity.

14. Go To The Doctor

Your doctor is your best source of information when it comes to your health. They can test your levels and talk to you about changes you should be making to your lifestyle to stay heart healthy.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Make an appointment for a routine physical with your health care provider.

  • Get a physical every year.

15. Lose Weight

Around 70% of Americans are considered overweight or obese according to the Body Mass Index chart. Excess weight increases your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

How to stick to your resolution:

  • Follow all of the guidelines above. These healthy tips will start you in the right direction.

Get into gear with these simple New Year’s resolutions. Start your year off right with steps to a heart healthy lifestyle. If you or a loved one has any heart health concerns, turn to the Cardiology team at UnityPoint Health - Methodist | Proctor.

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