Did you know that up to 80% of heart disease is entirely preventable? Most of us know the basics of that prevention – healthy diet, more exercise, not smoking – but when you start thinking of how many big changes that might mean, it can look like a pretty daunting lifestyle makeover all at once.
The first change should be a baby step. You’re more likely to succeed by making small changes, according to Dr. Catherine Champagne, professor of research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System.
“If you totally overhaul your diet or start an ambitious exercise program, you’re less likely to stick with it.”
Start small, go slow, and before you know it, those baby steps will start adding up to better cardiovascular health. Micro-improvements do more than chip away at a larger objective — they accomplish plenty on their own. Some of these are cumulative; do several and you’ll see an even bigger benefit. Here are 10 baby steps to get you started:
- Smile at the scale: losing just 10% of your body weight can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and your diabetes risk
- Take the dog for a walk: upping your daily exercise by just 10% can calm your nerves and boost your mood
- Rent Duck Soup: laughing an extra 10 minutes a day can tense the abdominal muscles, increase the heart rate and help your body take in more oxygen – it’s like “jogging on the sofa”
- Snack on six strawberries: just 10% more fruits and vegetables can help you reach your daily target intake – and each added portion lowers your stroke risk by 11%
- Make your own marinara sauce: try cutting your daily sodium by 10% by cooking more at home or using frozen veggies instead of high-salt canned ones
- Cut the salt and run: you can lower your blood pressure by cutting down on salt and lower one point for every pound you lose
- Eat the right fats: good fats should make up 10% of your daily calorie count; replacing butter with olive or canola oil and eating more unsalted nuts can lower LDL choesterol and reduce heart attack risks by up to 24%
- Can the cola: regular soda drinkers can cut daily calories by 10% and lower their risk of getting diabetes by giving up that daily can
- Go to bed half an hour earlier: try to sleep 10% more than you’re sleeping now, because sleep restores both brain and body and can reduce our risks of colds, flu, high blood pressure, heart attacks and diabetes
- Say ‘Si’ to Siesta: research shows that a 10 -minute daily nap is good for the heart, decreasing heart attack risks by up to 37%!
Read the rest of Richard Laliberte‘s tips reported in WebMD.
What baby steps have you taken?