Resolutions Worth Keeping: Living Heart-Healthy in 2022
An American survey last year found that health-related goals topped the priority list of New Year’s resolutions for 2021. Around half of those surveyed wanted to exercise more or lose weight, while about 40 percent wanted to improve their diets and 10 percent wanted to quit smoking. Of those people who make resolutions, many say they do, in fact, keep them. Around half of respondents in one such survey said they kept at least some of their 2020 resolutions. About 35 percent said they met all of their goals and just 16 percent say they didn’t keep any of their resolutions.
So, since statistics show the odds for keeping your resolutions are pretty high, why not make a resolution for your heart health in 2022? But what should you pay attention to in order to keep your resolutions? Or asked differently: What did the 16 percent who reported not meeting their goals do wrong? Getting started is half the battle, so simply making a resolution is already a great step in itself. You’ve already taken a brave step by setting a goal you can hold yourself accountable for. Next, make sure your resolution is “SMART,” meaning that it’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Getting Started with “SMART” Goals
“Live healthier” is a great goal—but not terribly specific. Does it mean to eat better? If so, what foods do you want to eat less or more of? If you want to “exercise more,” a specific and measurable goal might be to walk a certain number of steps a day or exercise for a certain number of hours per week. You can also take care of the “time-bound” element by picking a date by which you want to have achieved your goal. The advantage of New Year’s resolutions is that they’re completely defined by you, so you can make sure they are attainable and realistic—in the time period you set.
Starting Slowly with Achievable Goals
If your goal is to exercise more, hitting the gym five days a week right away might leave you burned out. Instead, try working your way into your goal slowly. Experts say even light, short walks are enough to start making a difference to cardiovascular health, with the benefits only going up from there. Walking about eight kilometres over the course of a week, at an average pace (3 km per hour), cuts the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes by almost a third. Working toward your goal can be as easy as starting with regular walks over your lunch hour.
Our earlier blog on Five Simple Measures for Heart Health can also give you some ideas on small steps you can take right away if your goal is to live a more heart-healthy life, such as scheduling a blood pressure check, talking to your doctor about your family history, or getting more sleep. Our piece on lowering your atrial fibrillation risk can also help you determine what limits you might put on your alcohol or caffeine intake, if your goal involves drinking less.
Sticking to Your Plan
Now that you’ve made your goal and have a specific, step-by-step plan for how to achieve it, how do you make sure you stay on track?
First, tell others and bring them in on your plan. Your family and friends can give you moral support and encouragement, and help make the goal more real in your mind. Telling your doctor also adds another level of accountability and will ensure there’s an expert who can check-in and keep you on track. He or she can also help you with specific strategies by recommending certain foods or reviewing your exercise plan to make sure it works for you.
Finally, don’t give up if you experience a minor setback—these are normal and everyone experiences them from time to time. Don’t be discouraged, simply try again and find ways to reward yourself for a job well done. Just make sure your rewards are compatible with your goals.
Still looking for a resolution that improves your health? Check out our articles on heart health and well-being in our corporate blog. We at BIOTRONIK wish you a wonderful 2022 and hope that you stick to your goals.