Wellness Wednesday: It’s Never Too Late: Tips to Reverse Your Risk for Heart Failure

Haven’t always treated your body like a temple? Don’t fear: it’s never too late to shed those bad habits and reverse your risk for health problems in your later years. 

As we age it becomes harder to make changes. Many people believe that it’s too late to change and that the damage done cannot be reversed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Regardless of age, people who make lifestyle changes with diet, exercise and stress management tend see positive changes in their blood pressure, cholesterol numbers and weight. They feel better and have increased energy.

Here are some tips on getting started:

Don’t Make Resolutions – Set Goals

Are those New Year’s resolutions already history? You’re not alone: studies show that more than 90 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first month. Most people who set resolutions don’t develop any strategies for how to actually achieve them. The better approach is to set goals for the year. Think of the small steps you can take that will get you there and focus on those. Don’t tie your goals to any specific date, and reward yourself when you achieve each small step.

Start Exercising – At Any Age 

Even people who start exercising late in life can reap the benefits. Frequent exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease and many other conditions. If you haven’t exercised in a while, first get a check-up from your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to start an exercise program. Then, start slowly: take the stairs, walk around the block – try to engage in very mild exercise a few times a day, for a few weeks. 

Quit Smoking

No matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting at any age is beneficial to your health. According to the American Cancer Society, even after age 80, people can live healthier if they give up cigarettes. The benefits to quitting are almost immediate:

  • Your breathing will improve and your lungs, heart and circulatory system will begin to function better.
  • Your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or getting cancers decrease.
  • You are likely to add years to your life.
  • You’ll save money!
  • Even if you’re tried a few times before, it’s never too late to try again and quit smoking for good.

    Lose Weight

    Weight loss at any age yields heart benefits and helps you live longer. Those extra pounds put you at increased risk of dying from heart disease and cancer, so no matter your age, shedding that extra weight is a must for a healthy lifestyle. Remember, the most effective weight-loss plans include a combination of exercise and healthy diet.

    Eat Right

    If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease or have high blood pressure, studies show that a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and fish can still lower your risk of dying from a cardiac event.

    Get Your Annual Physical

    An annual physical can catch health problems as they arise. The older you get, the more important these exams become to screen for medical issues, assess risks and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

    The Sooner You Start, the Better

    Irregardless of age, abandoning an unhealthy lifestyle can control, and even reverse, the progression of coronary artery disease. It’s never too late. The sooner you develop healthy habits (and lose the bad ones), the more benefits you’ll reap for your heart and overall health.

    This is a reprint from Carolinas Healthcare System


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