A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

New Year’s resolutions for better heart health

Heart healthy New Years resolution ideasThe start of a new year is a time we think about bettering ourselves. We often make health-related goals like eating better and exercising more.

Having a reason to accomplish your goals, like reducing your risk for heart attacks and strokes, can make it easier to stick to your resolutions.

Marshfield Clinic physicians suggested seven resolutions to help you achieve better heart health this year.

1. Improve your health numbers.

Blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, body mass index and waist size say a lot about your risk for heart disease, strokes and chronic illnesses.

If your numbers aren’t in the normal range, make it a goal to get there. You can start by adding the following resolutions to your 2017 to-do list.

2. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

Fresh veggies, fruit, lean meat and low-fat dairy found around the perimeter of the store are part of a heart-healthy diet, said Dr. Craig Santolin, a Marshfield Clinic cardiologist.

When you venture to the inside aisles, look for high-fiber, low-sodium and low-fat options like nuts, beans, whole grain bread and cereals and frozen fruits and vegetables.

3. Learn to cook meals from scratch.

“When you cook at home, you know exactly what ingredients go into each meal,” said Dr. Kori Krueger, a Marshfield Clinic internal medicine and pediatrics physician.

Include whole grains, protein, fruits and veggies in each meal. Click here for heart-healthy meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

4. Exercise 30 minutes a day.

The American Heart Association recommends adults exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week to improve heart health. If 30 minutes is challenging, start with 10 or 15. Anything is better than nothing.

Walking is the simplest way to meet your cardio exercise goals, but any physical activity that raises your heart rate will do. Shoveling snow, raking leaves or dancing around the living room to your favorite music count as cardio.

“Exercise is inexpensive compared to medications and procedures,” Santolin said.

5. Get active outdoors.

Make fitness a family affair. Go skiing or ice skating in the winter. When the weather warms, bike, play tennis or swim as a family.

6. Get a dog.

It’s not your traditional heart health advice, but getting a dog is a huge motivator to walk 30 minutes or more per day if you’re up for other pooch care duties.

7. Limit screen time to 60 minutes a day.

Screen time limits aren’t just for kids. Spending less than one hour of your time at home in front of a TV, tablet, smartphone, personal computer or video game system will encourage you to be more physically active, Krueger said.

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