NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS FOR YOUR HEART:
As the old cliché goes; time flies by, and a new year is upon us already. At the start of the year, most of us indulge in another cliché, which is making up New Year resolutions. Most of these have do with eating healthier and starting an exercise program. Usually, somewhere between a Sangeet and a wedding reception in late January, these resolutions are relegated to the dustbin, much like that old stationary cycle you bought five years ago in a fit of enthusiasm, and is now used as a clothes hanger !
However, man is an eternal optimist and we never give up. So, here is a set of 8 resolutions you can follow (or try to follow) for 2012. I have kept them deliberately simple, and eminently achievable. Have a fantastic year and let me know how many of these you plan to follow.
RESOLUTION NO 1: I WILL KNOW MY NUMBERS.
The first step towards better heart-health is to know where you stand currently. For that it is very important for you to know your health numbers. For heart disease prevention, the most important numbers to know, and their normal values are:
Blood Pressure: Normal blood pressure should be less than 120 / 80 mmHg.
Blood cholesterol: Your cholesterol profile should be done after a 12 hour fast and the values should be:
Total cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dl
Triglycerides Less than 150 mg/dl
LDL cholesterol Less than 100 mg/dl
HDL cholesterol More than 40 mg/dl.
Blood sugar: Uncontrolled blood sugar leads to diabetes, which is a very important risk factor for heart disease. Your normal fasting blood sugar should be between 70 –100 mg/dl.
RESOLUTION NO. 2: I WILL NOT SMOKE
A smoker’s risk of having a heart attack is more than twice that of a nonsmoker. Smoking speeds up the development of plaque in the arteries. It also reduces the level of the good cholesterol (known as HDL), and increases the stickiness of blood cells causing blood clots inside the arteries. If you smoke currently, strongly consider quitting- its not cool anymore!
RESOLUTION NO 3: I WILL TAKE 10,000 STEPS DAILY
Exercise helps protect against heart disease and several forms of cancer. But besides regular exercise every extra step you take during the day builds up your ‘health balance’, and helps prevent disease. Try and factor in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as walking) in your daily life.
RESOLUTION NO 4: I WONT LET THE WEIGHING SCALE RULE ME!
Its important to maintain a healthy weight, according to your height, but its more important to eat a healthful diet and exercise regularly. Studies have shown that exercise programs and healthy eating lead to improved health parameters, even in the absence of weight loss. However, these studies should not be seen to be a license to be overweight, but to serve as encouragement to those making a change in their lifestyle, which might not necessarily be reflected on the weighing scale.
RESOLUTION NO. 5: I WILL NOT CRASH DIET
If your BMI is more than 25 kg/m2, it is important for you to lose weight, but it needs to be done through a combination of a sensible diet and exercise. Crash dieting and starvation may help you to lose weight quickly but that weight will come back on very rapidly, besides this being dangerous for health. You should adjust your exercise and caloric intake, such that you lose about 1-3 kg per month, not more. Under no circumstances should you reduce your caloric intake to less than 1000 calories per day.
RESOLUTION NO. 6: I WILL EAT HEALTHY
This is an important follow-up to resolution number five. Contrary to popular opinion it is not difficult to eat healthy. It is a misconception that healthy eating means giving up ‘all the good things’ and eating an oil-free diet. You should include oil in your diet, but make sure its in limited quantity- about half a kg per person per month. Fruits and vegetables should form the major part of your diet. If you are non-vegetarian you need to reduce your intake of red meat (once in 2-3 weeks), but chicken and fish are fine to consume on a regular basis.
RESOLUTION NO. 7: I WILL TAKE MY PILL….
With appropriate lifestyle modification, you should be able to control most of your risk factors. But at some point, you may need to take medications. If you need medicine, do not stay avoid it because of the over-hyped and unjustified fear of side-effects or ‘being on medicine for life’. You should discuss the risk to benefit ratio of any medicine with your doctor and make the decision
RESOLUTION NO. 9: I WILL GET A HEALTH CHECK
We all feel that it will ‘never happen to me’, but heart disease is an equal opportunity killer. Unfortunately most of the risk factors for heart disease are silent- they give you no warning of their presence. You should get your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and weight checked on a regular basis. Ideally these tests should start at the age of 15, and then repeated periodically. After all, the disease process begins in adolescence. If you have crossed 40, its also a good idea undergo a stress test.
RESOLUTION NO. 8: I WILL ENJOY THE NEW YEAR
For good health, it is extremely important not to get ‘stressed out’ over small matters. Stress has several negative effects on our body, and should be kept under control. While, some stress is important it is vital to not allow it to completely take over our lives. So, as you start the year and try and implement all your resolutions make sure you make some time for relaxation and fun.