While most people know that healthy behaviors are good for overall health, it sometimes can be difficult to make the necessary lifestyle changes.
Most people lead busy lives. This is why many find it difficult to fit in the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
Sneak in physical activity
But moderate exercise doesn’t necessarily mean four hours a week on the treadmill. Instead, think of ways in which you can make a little more physical activity a routine part of your day, cardiologist Christine Jellis, MD, says.
Try to tack on a bit more physical activity to something you’re already doing. Every little bit of physical activity adds up, Dr. Jellis says.
“I always say to my patients that even 10 minutes a day of moderate exercise can make a difference,” Dr. Jellis says. “Even seemingly small amounts of activity, such as walking around the block, walking the dog, or parking the car a little bit farther away from your office counts. This way, you’re making sure your body is getting a bit of regular exercise.”
Other ways to increase your physical activity a little bit every day include:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Getting up from your chair every hour at work and taking a short stroll
- Doing stretches or exercises while you watch TV
Other goods habits
Dr. Jellis says that in addition to getting as much regular exercise as possible, other good habits that can help prevent heart disease include:
- Eating a healthy diet (limit saturated and trans fats, salt, and processed sugars)
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Avoiding/quitting smoking
If you can turn these healthy behaviors into regular habits, the path to a healthier heart becomes easier, Dr. Jellis says. Preventing conditions such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes is a much more effective way of avoiding heart disease than using medications to treat them once they’ve already begun, she says.
“I think you have to find something that you can integrate with your regular routine,” Dr. Jellis says. “Try to make it something fun that you’re going to enjoy. Before long, it’s simply part of your regular lifestyle and you’re not even thinking about the fact that you started this to optimize your health.”
Not living the healthiest lifestyle? It’s never too late to start, Dr. Jellis says. The effects of healthy living can be felt almost immediately.