As summer rolls on, it can be difficult to continue finding events to write about, but one topic that will never cease being important is making small changes to your lifestyle that have a big effect on your health!
Heart disease and stroke prevention
The Mayo Clinic recommends five steps to follow which will reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Quit smoking
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week
- Eat a diet that’s healthy
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get regular check-ups
Research is good but how do we turn that information into real change in our lives? If you are overweight, smoke and have a bad diet, the road ahead can seem overwhelming and the best advice I can give is from a picture on the wall in my office:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” -Lao Tzu
Start with one step and add another
At first, the best step might simply be to go to the doctor and have a check-up. Then you have a starting point that can be a valuable place to dictate your next move.
In addition, add some fruit and vegetables to your diet, as well as some extra activity and exercise to your life. For some people this is best done by doing something that makes sense to them such as walking to work.
If you smoke, there really is no getting around it. You have to stop.
It might help to try and motivate you by telling yourself that you will stop anyway – if you have a heart attack. So it’s best to reduce the risk of that by just stopping now.
Stopping smoking is the one big thing that you can do to help yourself. Nicotine replacement therapy is now available to help the quit and your doctor also can help if you are having a really hard time.
Some research has shown that there might be an advantage to wearing a nicotine patch and reducing your cigarette intake two weeks prior to quitting for good. In this way you are preparing yourself for the quit while actually reducing the level of harmful chemicals and carbon monoxide in the blood.
It might just work for you and, in any case, it’s a step in the right direction!
About Jim Coyle
Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.