We’re just a few weeks into 2024, so you can still set some New Year’s resolutions to make positive and impactful changes this year. For many, improving their health is a core aspect of their New Year’s resolutions–and for good reason–the turn of a new year signifies a fresh start for a healthier and happier you.
If you need some inspiration for your list of heart-healthy New Year’s resolutions in 2024, continue reading below as we list out some of the ways you can focus on improving your heart health this year.
A common resolution people will make when they want to better their heart health is to exercise more. According to the NIH, physical activity can lower your risk for coronary heart disease, among other diseases like diabetes or cancer.
The CDC recommends adults get 2 days of muscle-strengthening activity and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, or just 30 minutes a day, five days per week. This means you don’t have to commit to long runs each day or strenuous workout routines–unless you want to. Be realistic, and find a physical activity that you find enjoyable and can stick with each day to help improve your heart health in 2024.
Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
You may also want to make it a point to eat healthier in the new year. While there is a lot of information out there about what’s the best diet to eat if you want to support heart health, the AHA recommends the DASH eating pattern, which stands for the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
Some of the main features of the DASH diet include eating more non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes while lowering the intake of salt, added sugars, topical oils, alcohol, and processed foods.
With this, Dr. Riva Rahl, a preventive medicine physician at Cooper Clinic in Dallas, recommends boosting dietary fiber to help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol. She explains that you can add more fiber to your diet by eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans, or taking supplements if necessary.
This year, make it a resolution to catch more ZZZ’s for better heart health. Interventional cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD, explains that missing out on valuable hours of sleep can increase your blood pressure and inflammation in the body, which can lead to hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and even heart failure.
If you want to focus on getting more sleep this year, try to limit your intake of caffeine in the afternoon and evening and create a nighttime routine for yourself to get into relaxation more easily.
Focus on Your Mental Health
If your goal for 2024 is to improve your heart health, you may want to focus on your mental health, too.
Johns Hopkins cardiologist Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H. explains the link between heart health and stress, stating that stress can cause inflammation, which can lead to high blood pressure and lower amounts of “good” cholesterol, or HDL.
The AHA recommends a number of ways to deal with stress that you can incorporate into your 2024 New Year’s resolutions, including regular exercise, spending time with friends and family, having a positive attitude, getting enough sleep, or practicing relaxation techniques, among others.