Turning the page onto a new year can be an exciting moment. It can be a time for optimism, of hope and a chance to plan a path to renewal and growth during the months ahead. Improving our health tends to be at the top of the list of things to tackle in the new year. How we measure what healthy means comes in many shapes or forms, but overall we can agree that working towards a healthy cardiovascular system is the foundation from which we can build a long, happy and healthy life.
To kick-off the new year, we are giving away a free iHeart Internal Age™ for one lucky health-conscious winner to incorporate into their 2019 action plan! Learn more about the benefits of tracking your Internal Age™ with iHeart and enter to win below.
Each year losing weight and improving health are among the most commonly targeted resolutions, but they're also among the most challenging to achieve. Statistics show that only 9.2 percent of people reported that their new year’s goals were met in 2018. They cited common challenges such as feelings of doubt, a lack of motivation or simply being distracted by other facets of their daily lives that cropped up as the winter turned to spring.
Ultimately we just aren’t satisfied with how we tackle the task of improving our health. Why might this be? While there isn’t one definitive answer, it does seem like how we actualize our health improvement goals can be a little unsustainable.
If you are feeling this way too, you are not alone—don’t give up hope! Offering yourself the space to make some missteps along the way to a healthier lifestyle should be at the top of your list this year. Remember to start slow, and forgive yourself if from time to time you don't stick directly to your plan.
Below are 7 achievable steps to start working on that could help you achieve your heart-healthy goals for 2019.
1. Make Monday Meatless
You don't have to completely quit meat to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. Simply reducing the amount of animal products in your diet once a week will lower your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and reduce your cholesterol. By switching to a vegetarian diet you'll be giving your body vital heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, omega 3 fatty acids, and various antioxidants that are all part of an optimal diet.
2. Replace Your Morning Coffee
Another big daily routine is that morning cup of coffee, try to switch it out for a decaf tea and make it a habit. Studies have repeatedly proven that caffeine increases blood pressure which in turn can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, dementia among other chronic illnesses. It's a small step that can add up to big, positive results over time.
3. Floss Your Teeth Daily
We know this may sound a bit rudimentary, but keeping up on your dental routine is important to your overall health - including your heart! Periodontal (gum) disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. Studies have shown that bacteria in the mouth that cause gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. These changes may in turn, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
4. Take Up Yoga or Tai Chi With A Friend
Taking up a new fitness activity is something we all set our minds to in January, but it can be one of the first things we abandon as the year progresses. Try setting your goal to just one session each week to start, and partner with a friend or loved one to join you. Make it a part of your social routine, and keep each other motivated and accountable to attend each week. Teaming up with like-minded friends on any of your health goals can be a powerful partnership that could keep both of you on track this year!
5. Stretch Every Day
Not only can stretching help increase your flexibility, which is an important factor of fitness, but it can also improve your posture, reduce stress and body aches, and more. This is also something easily done each day right at home. Start building your own stretching routine and try to schedule in 10-15 minutes each morning before you start your day. Here's a simple routine published by Harvard Medical School you might find helpful.
6. Learn Your Family Medical History
While this isn't the most exciting goal to begin with, remember that no long term mission starts without knowing all the facts, and knowledge is power! Speak with your loved ones, consult with your doctor, and start putting the pieces together of your family's medical history. Knowing this history can help you take steps to lower your risk of heart disease or dementia in the new year.
Stay Motivated. Track Your Progress
Living a longer, healthier, and happier life starts in the mind, and first we need to equip ourselves with the right motivators in order to make positive lifestyle changes stick. After all, we can be creatures of routine, so it’s important to look at what we do this year to improve our health as a series of small and achievable life habits that over time become second nature to us.
The spark to keep you motivated could be seeing and feeling all the positive effects that your healthy choices will create. Using a device like iHeart Internal Age™ to track your heart-healthy wins in real-time could make all the difference in your journey to better health. Knowing that you're making progress helps validate all the hard work you'll put on the road ahead. You got this! Don't forget to enter to win a free iHeart through the link below:
Learn more about how to start tracking your Internal Age™ alongside your New Year's health and wellness resolutions this year and save 15% on your own device all through January.
Happy New Year from all of us at iHeart!