Heart Healthy Habits For The New Year
We know that New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep, and that’s why we want to give you some small changes you can make in 2019 that will make a big difference to your heart.
Many people make New Year’s resolutions each year, and most don’t stick to them. The top three most common resolutions in 2017 were to exercise more, lose weight, and eat healthier, however approximately 80% of these fail by February. Our tip? Make them smaller, more bite-sized, and more achievable. Say you want to exercise more. How will you do that? What exercise do you want to do more? And what frequency can you stick to? Instead of just saying ‘exercise more’, why not make your resolution ‘walk for 15 minutes after dinner each weeknight’, ‘take a walk to the train station instead of the bus’ or even ‘walk the stairs rather than the escalator’? Simple, small steps are shown make a much larger difference than big, hard to define goals.
So here’s some heart healthy habits to think about into the New Year to start your year off on the right foot!
Stay off your phone an hour before bed
There are many excuses to be on your phone before bed; a quick scroll through Instagram, setting an alarm… the list goes on. But the reality is, being on your phone before bed keeps your brain alert and doesn’t allow your body to start its wind-down process.
Some other effects of using a light-emitting device before bed are taking longer to fall asleep, getting less deep REM sleep, and taking longer to wake up. And, really, who wants that? Using your phone less can also help regulate stress levels (and therefore lower blood pressure) and ensure that your sleep cycle stays regular and effective. Try small things, like charging your phone overnight in another room than your bedroom, turning off backlit screens and lights an hour before bed, and reading books with a warm lamp behind you, not on a screen.
Carry a drink bottle with you
You might think this is a strange request, but staying hydrated has so many benefits! Think better skin, higher levels of concentration, less time at your desk because you’ve gone to the kitchen to fill up your water bottle…
If we look specifically at the heart, when dehydration sets in, the heart works a lot harder and blood pressure rises due to the blood dropping in volume and thickening. This becomes even more important when exercising to stay hydrated and ensure that blood flow can keep up with a rising pulse, or else dizziness or nausea will set in.
So keep that drink bottle close to you and sip throughout the day!
Get Some Sun!
The New Year is a perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy what an Australian summer has to offer. The sun is a great source of Vitamin D, which is shown to lower your risk of heart disease. And being outside increases endorphin levels and boosts mental health! And how easy is this, you only need 15 minutes of sun exposure in the summer to get your recommended daily intake! But remember slip, slop, slap to avoid getting burnt.
For our northern hemisphere friends, in the winter you’re looking at around 30 minutes of sun to soak up the benefits.
Take your workout outside
Green Exercise, as the name suggests, is the practice of heading outdoors and getting active in natural surroundings.
There are plenty of benefits! Nature provides clean air, a varied workout, and vitamin D. Plus, it’s much more visually stimulating than a treadmill! Physical activity in general will aid in lowering blood pressure and maintaining a healthier heart rate, which leads to a happier mental health and improved sleep. Try taking your workout outdoors once a week. And, hey, there are no membership fees for the great outdoors!
Commit to Healthier Snacking
Swap the chips for some dips. Here are some healthy ideas for your 3pm craving, a personal favourite of ours is peanut butter and apple! The salty/sweet combo is irresistible.
Think of 3 things you are grateful for, daily
The New Year is a time for a fresh start, new beginnings, and a reason to add positivity into everything we do. Maintaining a happy, healthy life and having a positive outlook helps both our mental and physical health. Many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier, and have a better mental health.
So, try writing down, or even just taking the time to think about, 3 things that you are grateful for each day. It could be as simple as, my bus was on time, I got to spend time with a loved one, I had time to watch my favourite Netflix show, my dog didn’t wee on the carpet today. You get the idea!
We hope that some of these small changes will help you to become a happier and healthier you in 2019. These achievable goals will then turn into habits that you don’t even realise you’re doing!
Your heart will love you for it.