Dear Patient and Friend,
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Beginning a New Year carries many opportunities. The greatest way to consider your best course of action is to set some goals – in other words, pick some specific objectives you’d like to accomplish, so you know where to put your attention and energy to achieve what would make you happiest and healthiest.
Writing down your goals is a time-tested and highly respected process in the business community, but many individuals can benefit from goal setting as well. Choosing what you’d like to do and plotting a course of action to make it real applies just as much in your family, among your friends, and of course in your personal life, especially your health.
The mind is target oriented – you can’t hit a target unless you aim at it, and you can’t aim at a target if you don’t know what it is. So, identify in clear terms what you want to occur.
Some people like to set goals in categories – personal goals, professional goals, goals about relationships, money or leisure time. Others like to pick three or five major goals to work on each year, or one important goal each month. Still others concentrate on one big goal each year – to get to an ideal weight, to earn a certain amount of income, or to find a soul mate.
One great goal is to develop a healthy habit, like eating better, exercising more, or selecting a health practice like yoga, Pilates, meditation, or a martial art. These approaches tend to incorporate breathing, stretching, movement, balance, coordination, strength training, and a variety of other health benefits.
What are your health goals for you and your family for 2012?
Setting goals is one of your best ways to raise your standards and produce more in all aspects of your life. Grab a pad and a pen, and jot down some targets to aim at, and some plans to make them happen – it’s fun, it’s practical, and it works!
New Year’s Resolutions For Health ...
We all know the drill – New Year’s Eve comes around and with the best of intentions, we declare constructive changes we plan on making, and right around the third week in January we realize that we are already so far off target, there’s no point in maintaining the charade, and we blow it off until next year, when we repeat the same dance, again with the best of intentions.
Eventually, something has to give in this system – either we will wear out because we never really made the commitment to follow through, or we actually do make some changes to move ourselves in the direction of health and wellness.
Part of the problem is that there isn’t just one right answer – and that also gives us a clue as to how we can help ourselves to execute better this year where we may have fallen short in the past.
One of the best ways to stick to your New Year’s resolutions is to seek the help of other people. If your New Year’s resolution is to exercise more, seek the help of a personal trainer or friend to help hold you accountable. The same is true for loosing unwanted weight. Seeking the help of a professional will help hold you accountable so that your New Year’s resolutions become your ‘New Year’s accomplishments’ rather than ‘New Year’s wishes!’
Heart Disease: The Scary Truth!
Heart disease may be a leading cause of death, but that doesn't mean you have to accept it as your fate. Although you lack the power to change some risk factors — such as family history, sex or age — there are some key heart disease prevention steps you can take.
You can avoid heart problems in the future by adopting a healthy lifestyle today. Here are five heart disease prevention tips to get you started.
1. Don't smoke or use tobacco.
Smoking or using tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack. When it comes to heart disease prevention, no amount of smoking is safe. Smokeless tobacco and low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes also are risky, as is exposure to secondhand smoke.
In addition, the nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder by narrowing your blood vessels and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood. This increases your blood pressure by forcing your heart to work harder to supply enough oxygen. Even so-called "social smoking" — smoking only while at a bar or restaurant with friends — is dangerous and increases the risk of heart disease.
The good news, though, is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just one year. And no matter how long or how much you smoked, you'll start reaping rewards as soon as you quit.
2. Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Getting some regular, daily exercise can reduce your risk of fatal heart disease. And when you combine physical activity with other lifestyle measures, such as maintaining a healthy weight, the payoff is even greater.
Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It also reduces stress, which may be a factor in heart disease.
Try getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week. However, even shorter amounts of exercise offer heart benefits, so if you can't meet those guidelines, don't give up. You can even break up your workout time into 10-minute sessions.
Remember, activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs and walking the dog all count toward your total. You don't have to exercise strenuously to achieve benefits, but you can see bigger benefits by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts.
3. Eat a heart-healthy diet.
Eating a special diet that is low in fat, cholesterol and salt can help protect your heart. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products are all “heart-healthy” foods that can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Heart-healthy eating isn't all about cutting back. Most people need to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet — with a goal of five to 10 servings a day. Eating that many fruits and vegetables can not only help prevent heart disease, but also may help prevent cancer.
Following a heart-healthy diet also means drinking alcohol only in moderation — no more than two drinks a day for men, and one a day for women. At that moderate level, alcohol can have a protective effect on your heart. More than that becomes a health hazard.
4. Maintain a healthy weight.
As you put on weight in adulthood, your weight gain is mostly fat rather than muscle. This excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of heart disease — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
One way to see if your weight is healthy is to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which considers your height and weight in determining whether you have a healthy or unhealthy percentage of body fat. BMI numbers 25 and higher are associated with higher blood fats, higher blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
The BMI is a good, but imperfect guide. Muscle weighs more than fat, for instance, and women and men who are very muscular and physically fit can have high BMIs without added health risks. Because of that, waist circumference also is a useful tool to measure how much abdominal fat you have:
Men are considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 38 inches.
Women are overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 34 inches.
Even a small weight loss can be beneficial. Reducing your weight by just 10 percent can decrease your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of diabetes.
5. Get regular health screenings.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won't know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.
Blood pressure: Regular blood pressure screenings start in childhood. Adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every two years. You may need more-frequent checks if your numbers aren't ideal or if you have other risk factors for heart disease. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury.
Cholesterol levels: Adults should have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years starting at age 20. You may need more frequent testing if your numbers aren't optimal or if you have other risk factors for heart disease. Some children may need their blood cholesterol tested if they have a strong family history of heart disease.
Diabetes: Since diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, you may want to consider being screened for diabetes. Talk to your doctor about when you should have a fasting blood sugar test to check for diabetes. Depending on your risk factors, such as being overweight or a family history of diabetes, your doctor may recommend first testing you for diabetes sometime between ages 30 and 45, and then retesting every three to five years.