Did you resolve to get healthier at the beginning of this year? Me too! Now that the "newness" of the resolutions are over, sometimes the determination can slip slowly away.
Here are 5 easy resolutions which can offer great benefits to your health. 1. Eat more fruits and veggies
Produce is loaded with nutrients that may lower blood pressure, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants. Researchers found that upping produce intake and switching to low-fat dairy products lowered systolic blood pressure by nearly 6 points (the upper number in blood pressure readings) and diastolic (the lower number) by 3 points in 2 weeks—almost as much as medication can achieve.
* Easy Tips: Keep your favorite fruits visable. If you see them, you will be more likely to eat them!
Make sure your plate is half filled with vegetables at each meal.
2. Exercise at least 60 minutes per week
According to research, older women who walked at a moderate pace for 20 minutes 3 times a week for 3 months improved their aerobic fitness by 12%. Participants also lowered their resting heart rate from 75 beats per minute to 68. Most people have resting heart rates between 60 and 80 bpm—the closer to 60, the healthier your heart.
*Easy tip: Choose an activity you enjoy - walking, bicycling, dancing etc. and aim for 20 - 25 minutes a day. Break it down, if you have to, into two 10-minute sessions. Slowly increase the frequency, duration, and intensity in small increments
3. Slash Saturated Fat
This helps lower cholesterol, which not only reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke but also keeps your brain healthy. "Saturated fat helps produce unhealthy LDL cholesterol," says Vincent Bufalino, MD, a Chicago-based cardiologist and spokesperson for the American Heart Association. The more saturated fat you cut—regardless of age—the more your LDL drops.
*Easy tips: Eat red meat no more than twice a week, switch to a lower fat milk, and increase your fiber intake to 20 to 25 g daily (which can lower LDL up to another 10%).
4. Include More Omega 3s
Omega-3s, essential fatty acids in which Americans are known to be deficient, have a wide range of impressive health benefits—from smoothing your skin and aiding weight loss to boosting your mood and minimizing the effects of arthritis. However, the ability of omega-3s, found in oily fish (like salmon, mackerel, and anchovies) and in plant sources (flaxseed, walnuts, and spinach), to prevent heart disease is perhaps best understood.
*Easy tips: Have fish for dinner instead of red meat twice a week; take a fish oil supplement (up to 2,000 milligrams a day) that contains a mix of EPA and DHA. Sprinkle ground flaxseed into yogurt, cereal or oatmeal, and snack on walnuts instead of your go-to afternoon staple of pretzels or chips.
5. Quit Smoking:
Within 20 minutes of finishing your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure (revved by the nicotine in tobacco) start to drop. Within 12 hours, toxic carbon monoxide, or CO, in your blood from the cigarette smoke decreases and oxygen levels increase, improving cell health and circulation. This is key because just a 1% rise of carbon monoxide in your blood ups your risk of tobacco-related death by 22%. Stay smoke free for about 2 months and, research shows, you can lower CO levels by up to 17%. Isn't it amazing how the body immediately begins to heal itself?
Since God's Word tells us that "our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit", this area deserves special attention. Practicing small steps will yield great health benefits.