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To Make Healthy New Year's Resolutions Stick, Keep them Modest and Manageable image
Healthy Living
January 11, 2024
To Make Healthy New Year's Resolutions Stick, Keep them Modest and Manageable
American Heart Association

Since 1924, the American Heart Association has been fighting heart disease and stroke and helping people to live longer, healthier lives. Our local AHA shares ways that you can stay healthy, get involved and help raise awareness right here in NEPA.

Keys to Keeping Those New Year’s Resolutions

The new year is a time when many people resolve to accomplish big things – say, run a marathon or lose 50 pounds – then watch those noble intentions melt away before the winter snow.

When people take on too much at once, they can get discouraged. Choosing a reasonable goal could help make a resolution stick – small changes add up to big impact.

The key word is “incremental” – pick one or two things you want to change and be consistent in making small, incremental changes before moving on to other things.

Experts acknowledge resolutions to be healthier can be difficult and hard to keep, such as quitting smoking or limiting alcohol consumption. But there are simple steps to kick off a healthy year that can keep those resolutions from melting away: eat less, eat smart and move more every day. Here are some achievable ideas:

Start at the doctor.

If you haven’t been to your doctor recently, that’s a good way to start the new year. Check your numbers – blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, and make a plan for any of the numbers that need attention.

Either with a health care professional or independently, consider using the American Heart Association’s My Life Check online tool, which uses health and lifestyle data to calculate a heart health score and recommends how to improve it.

Don’t say “exercise.” Just move.

If you’re intimidated by the gym or you don’t have an hour or two to burn there, just do something to be active. Even 10 to 15 minutes a day can help improve cardiovascular health.

Government health experts updated the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2018 to advise that short periods of activity have cumulative health benefits.

Think about exercise as a way to avoid being sedentary. Any physical activity counts – getting up from your desk periodically and walking around, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the store, or getting in the habit of a daily walk.

Dash to a healthier diet.

Bookstores and websites are packed with diet and nutrition advice, but the best eating pattern for heart health is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, according to a recent American Heart Association scientific statement. Generally, that diet is high in non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, and it’s low in salt, added sugar, tropical oil, alcohol and processed foods.

The pescetarian, Mediterranean and vegetarian diets also topped the list for heart-healthy eating patterns.

Think fiber.

It may not make a lot of New Year’s resolution lists, but boosting dietary fiber does a lot of good.

Fiber has been proven to lower the risk for heart disease. It reduces the risk for diabetes, it improves cholesterol, which is another way to reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke, and it’s a significant reduction in the risk for colon cancer.

And it’s an easy fix by increasing whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans.

But don’t overthink.

We all have stress and it can be difficult to manage it. Find one thing that helps you manage stress – whether it’s being with your pet, listening to music, taking a bath, meditating, prayer, decompressing with your loved ones – and find five minutes a day that helps you do that.

Don’t go it alone.

Find a buddy to help you engage with your health and you’ll be more consistent. Do things you enjoy doing, make it fun, and throw in a little activity.

Resolve not to lose your resolve.

Part of success is understanding there will be peaks and valleys in the journey. The biggest thing is to stay encouraged and keep moving forward every day.