Small changes every day lead to a big boost for heart health

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Time to deal with reality: we’re halfway through February, so... How are you going with your heart health new year’s resolutions?

Mid-February is often the time that our commitment to delivering on those changes begins to waver:

  • the holidays are long forgotten
  • we’re stuck (again) in the rut of juggling the demands of work and life, and
  • we find ourselves short on time to make good on those good intentions from late last year

But don’t give up! The Heart Foundation is here to help!

Forget about big changes

There are things that we can all do to improve our heart health. At the end of last year, you may have had grand plans for all that you wanted to achieve once the clock struck midnight and the new decade arrived. Maybe you had big plans to:

  • go for a run multiple times a week
  • join or go to the gym multiple times a week
  • make positive changes to your diet
  • immediately give up cigarettes

These are all worthy goals and, if you stick with them, your heart health can improve. But, when you make sudden changes that involve major shifts to the way you live your life or the way you socialise or get your work done, they may be bound to fail.

So, what’s the answer?

Don’t focus on success or failure. Do this instead.

Don’t rush change: you could be treating a marathon like a sprint, and that’s not going to work at all.

Remember, major change can be hard; take small steps towards a larger goal. Not many people can get up off the couch and start running marathons. People can also give up when they don’t see themselves achieving a significant goal. Aiming for, and achieving, smaller milestones helps to build momentum towards achieving a larger goal.

The best approach to achieve healthy change in your lifestyle is to start small and work towards making steady progress.

What does this mean?

Let’s look at making heart-healthy changes to your diet. The Heart Foundation has put in a lot of work and time to researching the best tips for eating a diet that is good for your heart. We have collated more than 200 easy to follow, delicious recipes that can help you to cook heart-healthy meals. To shift towards eating a healthier diet, start by committing to cooking one or two meals a week, based on these recipes. We recognise that time is a big factor in the choices we make about the meals we eat: that’s why most of our recipes can be prepared in around 15 minutes.

Once you discover how easy, and delicious, it is to eat a heart-healthy diet, you’ll enjoy cooking more of our recipes or creating your own that include extra veggies, for example.

What about exercise? The Heart Foundation recommends you should be active every day of the week. To stay on track for better heart health, aim to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity physical activity in your week. This may sound daunting, but here’s how you can work up to being consistently active:

  • start small and act by getting off the tram or bus one stop earlier than usual. Walking the rest of the way can be a relaxing way to boost your activity
  • ask some friends to join you for a walk on the weekend or after work, or join one of the 1100  Heart Foundation Walking Groups around Australia. This way you can get active and get social at the same time
  • at work consider going for a walking meeting, take the stairs instead of the lift a few days each week or go for a brisk walk around the block during your lunch break
  • instead of driving to the local store to buy bread or milk, jump on your bike, skateboard or scooter

If you start exercising more often, remember to boost the amount of water you drink: it’s important to stay hydrated when being active.