Prescriptions for a Healthy New Year
It’s the time of year again when we start to think about “New Year’s Resolutions.” Smoking, dieting, exercising and stress education often top the list. More importantly, though, is developing a heart-healthy lifestyle. This not only reduces the risk for a number of diseases, but can also significantly improve quality of life.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death among women. The incidence of heart disease rises in women after menopause and approaches that of men. By age 65, one in four women will develop heart disease. Lifestyle changes decrease this risk significantly. Diet, physical activity, stress reduction, and smoking cessation not only decrease the risk of heart disease but other diseases as well, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cancer and osteoporosis.
A prescription for good health should include:
As we age, particularly beyond the age of menopause, the percentage of lean body mass decreases and the percentage of fat increases. This slows metabolism and women start to gain weight more easily. Controlling weight can decrease the risk for heart disease and diabetes mellitus.
As little as 30 minutes a day of exercise will decrease your risk for heart disease. Exercise can be moderate, divided throughout the day and incorporated into your daily activities. Walking is a great form of exercise! Diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension and obesity are also decreased by regular exercise.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer among women and the leading risk factor for heart disease. As few as one to four cigarettes a day can increase your risk of heart disease. Passive smoke also increases your risk of heart disease and lung disease.
Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in fiber, low in saturated fats (mostly from meat and dairy) and trans fats (stick, margarine). There are many health benefits attributed to a healthy diet including a decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can decrease osteoporosis risk.
Depression and increased stress can be risk factors for heart disease. Exercise and relaxation techniques can help.
And…don’t forget about regular medical check-ups and screenings!
A healthy lifestyle including being active, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, not smoking, reducing stress and having regular medical checkups can benefit everyone and be a prescription for a Healthy New Year!