Dr Hilary Jones on behalf of The British Heart Foundation
1 Get active
We could all do with being a bit more active, even if it is a little harder in the winter months. Physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart and circulatory disease, it can help you control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health – helping you to look and feel great. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends that we get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. If that seem like a lot, don’t worry, as you can easily break it down into 10 minutes sessions throughout the day and build up from there. If you feel like you need a challenge to motivate you to exercise, why not sign up to one of the BHF’s bike rides, like the London to Brighton Bike Ride? There’s a great atmosphere and you can ride 54-miles on the 16 June at a pace that suits you.
2 Get a health MOT
What better time is there than the start of a brand new year to have a health MOT. If you’re aged 40-74, you’re entitled to a free NHS Health Check every five years, which is designed to spot early signs of conditions that include type 2 diabetes, dementia and heart disease. You can also take the free Heart Age Test. Knowing your heart age is something you can easily do at home, but it could be one of the most important things you do to help you live a healthy and longer life.
3 Stop smoking
You don’t need to wait until Stoptober to quit the cigarettes. If you’re a smoker, stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to protect your heart health. It may seem like an impossible New Year Resolution to stick to, but there’s lots of support readily available to help you live a smoke-free life, such as on the BHF’s website and through your local NHS Stop Smoking Service.
4 Be more charitable
The thought of New Year’s Resolutions means diets, punishing workouts and frenzied attempts at a life overhaul to some. But I think a pledge to support charities is satisfying and it doesn’t mean completely changing your life. How about donating a bag of unwanted clothes to charity after a New Year clear-out? Or if you feel you’ve had enough of chocolate after the Christmas season, why not sign up to the BHF’s Dechox campaign in January and get sponsored for giving up chocolate for the month of February? It’s a great way to be that little bit healthier and charitable at the same time!
5 Cut back on unhealthy food and drink
The festive season is renowned for being a time to treat yourself with Christmas feasts and drinks. So start the New Year right by trying to aim for a well-balanced diet that is full of fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fats and salt. If you drink alcohol, whether you drink every day, once or twice a week or just occasionally, it’s important to keep within the recommended guidelines.