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Baylor College of Medicine News

Heart health starts with lifestyle

Our experts suggest making small changes to improve heart health.

It’s easy to understand that the key to a healthy heart is a healthy lifestyle. What’s not so easy is setting healthy goals and sticking to them.

Experts at Baylor College of Medicine suggest making small changes and taking it day by day so you don’t get overwhelmed.

“Think of the good choices you can make today. A good place to start is by understanding where you are currently in terms of health,” said Dr. John Foreyt, professor of medicine – atherosclerosis and vascular medicine at BCM.

“Talking with your doctor is important to find out what goals you should be setting, is it losing weight, or lowering your cholesterol or blood pressure?”

Review current habits

Another tip to help you review your current habits includes writing down what you eat, and at the end of the day or even week you can review what food choices you’ve made. Do the same with your activities or exercises. This will help you see how many calories you are consuming or burning on a daily or weekly basis. There are many online tools and smart device apps that can help make this process more convenient.

“Once you know where you stand in terms of health, you can start slowly,” Foreyt said. “Focus on what you can do today to get on the right track and reach your goals.”

Start slowly

Other tips include:

  • Eat breakfast – people who eat breakfast are more likely to make better food choices throughout the day.
  • Cut back on portion size during your next meal – don’t make drastic diet changes you will not be able to keep.
  • Tell someone today you want to start making healthier choices – this will help to create a support system as you find others who are also looking to make healthy changes.
  • Go to bed earlier tonight – the body needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
  • Go for a walk this evening – start small, maybe just 10 minutes, and gradually work your way to longer walks.
  • Weigh yourself today – The number on the scale doesn’t necessarily indicate your health, but it could help you make better food and exercise decisions throughout the day.

“Small changes are less overwhelming,” said Foreyt. “Another good tip is to remember that every day is a new day and a new opportunity to make good choices.”