Home health care can help support you with activities of daily living, medication reminders, nutrition and exercise. However, healthy aging begins with healthy habits. The following article is from the American Heart Association (AHA) and provides tips on how to change bad habits to live a heart healthy lifestyle.

You can read the full article and learn more about heart health by visiting their website.

Form healthy habits

A healthy lifestyle requires replacing some bad habits with good ones. Doing so will reward you with more stamina, a better quality of life, and a healthier you. This may be easier said than done, of course, but some simple tips can help you tackle the most indulgent and hard-to-kick habits.

Rani Whitfield, M.D., Baton Rouge, LA., family practitioner and American Heart Association volunteer, is on a mission to help people change their unhealthy habits. He says “An unhealthy habit is easy to develop and hard to live with; a healthy habit is harder to develop but easier to live with,” said Whitfield, who has earned the nickname “The Hip Hop Doc” through his work getting young people to make healthier choices.

Regardless of your age, you can benefit from Whitfield’s simple habit-changing tips.

It takes 60 to 90 days to create a new habit.

Practice makes perfect and you have to keep at it. It helps to remember that an unhealthy habit is attractive because it gives instant gratification, an immediate “feel good.” On the other hand, a healthy habit means you put off gratification but get a much bigger payoff down the road.

Break a big goal into smaller short-term goals.

Don’t go cold turkey.  If you’re drinking five beers a day and you want to get down to six a month, start by reducing to three a day. You’ll see the benefits and feel more motivated to move toward your longer-term goal.

Tell someone you trust

Having someone in your corner who supports you can go a long way to accomplishing your goals. Be accountable to someone all the time. On the other hand it's tough to form a healthy habit without support. For example one spouse might be trying to quit smoking while the other one isn’t. You must find inner strength and self-motivation to push through this challenge. 

Allow a “cheat” once in a while

If you’ve avoided sweets all week and you’ve been exercising, and you go to a party or other event, you can afford that ONE small piece of apple pie. Additionally, you can let yourself have one ‘crazy meal’ a week.

Break the TV habit in favor of exercise

Commit yourself to watching TV on the weekend, record your favorite shows, do some exercise and then watch your show to reward to yourself. If you have room, you can exercise in front of the TV. For some, however, TV can be about escapism, which may be an underlying anxiety or depression that needs to be treated.

According to Whitfield, more people are drinking or smoking to deal with anxiety and depression over family or financial problems and maybe the inability to relax or to sleep. Understand that these bad habits are making the problems worse. 

Basic tips for heart health

  1. Consistent exercise, 30 minutes a day, 7 days a week. 
  2. Quitting smoking.
  3. If you currently need medication for a cardiovascular condition, take meds faithfully.  

Your greatest wealth is your health, so keep at it and don't give up. 

If you or someone you love needs help with activities of daily living, home health care can help.  

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