Small Changes Count in Preventing Heart Disease

by Jodee on March 9, 2009

By now, you have probably read or heard about how your lifestyle choices can increase your risk of heart disease. Here are some suggestions that will help lower your risk:

While it’s wonderful that you want to start taking better care of yourself, here’s a word of caution. People don’t like change; they really don’t. If you decide to make a whole bunch of major changes at once, you may not able to sustain them over the long term. It takes time for a change to become a habit, and you are far better off starting small and making changes that you can live with rather than a complete overhaul that won’t last.

Let’s look at the tips one at a time and talk about how you can incorporate them slowly into your life.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating well is a great goal to strive for, but if you vow that fries or chocolate will never cross your lips again for the rest of your life, you probably won’t be able to keep it. In a balanced diet, there is room for everything, even the occasional treat. (Notice that I said, “occasional” there.)

Start by substituting jam or jelly on your toast for butter. Substitute a salad for fries or onion rings when you order a hamburger. Eat dessert if you want to, but have a small serving. Over time, these habits will become automatic and you will have lowered your risk of heart disease.

Exercise Regularly

Have you ever noticed that a lot of people decide to hit the gym as their New Year’s resolution? They start off all gung-ho about getting fit, and then lose interest relatively quickly. By March or April, the gym is deserted again.

Instead, start off by increasing your daily activities, whether you decide to go to the gym or not. Start by going for a brisk walk for 15 or 20 minutes every other day. Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Work up to longer walks or start taking an exercise class when your overall fitness improves.

Quit Smoking

When it comes to quitting smoking, you have a number of options. For some people, quitting cold turkey is the way to go. Others use a nicotine patch or go on medication to help them get over their cravings. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your plans to quit and get advice about which approach would work best for you.

Alcohol in Moderation

If you enjoy a drink of alcohol, you don’t need to suddenly become a teetotaler. You can be aware of how often you drink and how much, and start to cut back.

Keep Records of Your Progress

Once you start making positive changes in your life, it may be helpful for you to keep a journal of the changes you are making. It will help you to stay on track as you reduce your risk of heart disease….one small change at a time.

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