Even if heart health isn’t your top concern in the new year, you can’t go wrong staying on top of your cardiovascular wellbeing. Sadly, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And a recent study found that 40% of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 without a heart-disease diagnosis still had early signs of a condition called atherosclerosis that put them at a greater risk of experiencing a heart attack. You can never start taking care of your ticker too early. Read on for five ways you can stay on top of your heart health in 2022.
1. Take it one step at a time:
You don’t need to tackle all of these goals at once. Look for ways to sneak some healthier options onto your plate or find ten minutes each day to stretch your legs between meetings. Making simple changes can add up.
2. Choose more lean proteins:
We all know that fish and seafood are great sources of protein for your heart, and research shows that cutting back on the amount of animal protein in your routine can be a game-changer for heart health. In any case, avoiding processed meats and sticking to plant protein, seafood and lean cuts of meat can help you keep your heart in good shape. (This list of heart-healthy foods is a good place to start providing more info on what foods your heart will appreciate most.)
3. Keep Moving:
The balance of food, calorie intake and physical activity will help maintain a healthy weight, which is crucial to optimal heart health” the American Heart Association recommends as long as you find a version of exercise that you enjoy, it doesn’t matter what it is—though research suggests that both strength training and high-intensity interval training are both excellent ways to protect your heart. Going for an afternoon walk has plenty of benefits also, so those who prefer a low-impact exercise routine will still be helping your heart.
4. Give yourself a break:
Stress can be extremely tough on your heart. Especially with what most of us have been facing the last few years as a result of the pandemic. Whether you have a pet whose presence relaxes you or a daily walk that helps you clear your head, giving yourself time to enjoy the things that relax you can make a huge difference. Meditation is also a worthwhile calming activity to get involved in.
5. Make your plan fit your style:
You don’t have to meal prep every week if that’s not your style—but you should think about meals and snacks ahead of time if you want to set yourself up for success, the American Heart Association suggests when making your next big grocery list, think about adding heart-healthy items like anti-inflammatory foods and whole grains to your cart. Or, if you’d like to start meal planning for the week and need some inspiration, look to simple ideas like this meal plan for beginners.
You don’t have to center healthy changes around a new year’s resolution. Instead, focus on simple, manageable goals that you can take on one day at a time. Adding heart-healthy ingredients to your meals and taking care of yourself the best you can are both simple, effective ways to stay healthy in the new year and for many years to come.
Stay safe & be well,