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Start the year heart healthy with tips from the American Heart Association

Fit Approach
The American Heart Association recommends starting small with changes to diet and exercise

The American Heart Association is giving some advice on how to start 2022 focused on your heart health.

There are more heart attack deaths between Christmas and New Year’s Day than any other time of the year. After the stress of the holidays, New Year’s resolutions that focus on your health can be crucial.

But how do you make resolutions that stick?

American Heart Association Communications Director Kristy Smorol recommends starting small.

"Instead of saying 'I'm going to exercise more,' say 'I am going to wake up early and take a walk before work three days a week,' said Smorol. “Make it something specific that is much easier to stick to, and make it a part of your day. Make it a habit."

While the pandemic can make people hesitant to exercise in public places, Smorol said try thinking outside of the box, like taking pets for a walk or having a dance party at home with your family.

When it comes to improving food choices, it helps to make a plan before heading to the store and look for little swaps that can add up.

"When you're cooking, instead of adding more salt to your dish, use more herbs and spices. If you're going to be using protein, go for lean protein instead of the red meat," said Smorol.

Managing stress also plays a critical role in living a healthy lifestyle.

"Take some time for yourself, and think about what your stress triggers are,” said Smorol. “If it's something that you know you can avoid, try and do that. If you have a way that you know helps calm you down, do that as much as you can."

Smorol said meditation, breathing exercises, and getting better sleep can all help decrease stress.

For more advice on leading a healthy lifestyle, check out the American Heart Association’s website.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.