How to set resolutions for a heart-healthy 2018


A new year brings with it millions of new resolutions — most of them health-related. Every January, gyms fill with people determined to make health changes. Yet, despite people’s best intentions, only a fraction actually succeed. In fact, University of Scranton research found that just 8 percent of people achieve the goals they set at the new year.

Committing to a heart-healthy lifestyle can seem like a daunting task, but improving your heart health can increase the quality and length of your life. With life expectancy dropping for the second consecutive year in the U.S., it’s more important than ever to take control of your health by setting — and sticking to — your resolutions.


What goals should you set?

Vow to know your numbers. Choosing to live heart-healthy involves playing an active role in your health care. One of the easiest and most overlooked steps you can make is to schedule an annual physical with your primary care physician to monitor any changes in your health. Make sure to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. These are all indicators of heart health that can help you determine other goals.

Vow to exercise more. Exercising is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, but its importance cannot be overstated. A recent study in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease even found that one hour of running may translate to an additional seven hours added to a person’s life. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week. When you set your exercise goal, it is crucial to make it achievable and adjust it as you progress in your skill level.

Vow to develop your diet. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is also directly tied to heart health. Instead of trying the latest fad or overhauling your entire diet all at once, take time to pinpoint unhealthy foods in your present diet and replace them with new, heart-healthy ones. For instance, you may want to significantly reduce fried foods or foods high in saturated fat and replace them with heart-healthy foods like salmon, asparagus, brown rice and almonds.


How can you keep them?

The resolutions listed above are broad categories, but it’s up to you set specific goals that meet your unique needs. Here are three rules you should use when making resolutions to improve your odds of sticking to them.

  • Create realistic goals. One of the biggest reasons people don’t realize their resolutions is that they set overly ambitious or vague goals that are impossible to attain. A good goal should be specific and bounded by rational, achievable metrics. A resolution to “lose some weight” isn’t easy to follow, but a resolution to avoid sugary drinks is.
  • Keep it simple. Many people are tempted to make a big list of New Year’s resolutions, but it’s best to stick with just two or three. Goals also shouldn’t require drastic life changes. For example, if you aren’t used to eating something like greens, don’t commit to eating salads every day for lunch, or you’ll quickly get sick of them and likely give up. The better approach is to find ways to incorporate vegetables into your daily life, like adding them to a stir fry or a smoothie.
  • Be patient. It’s inevitable that you will hit bumps in the road while making a lifestyle change. Instead of becoming angry or frustrated with yourself, accept that it’s normal to slip sometimes — just remember to get back on track.

A new year symbolizes a fresh start and a time to re-focus on your health. While sticking to resolutions may be difficult at first, adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can provide incredible rewards in 2018 and beyond.

Dr. Anthony Magnano is a Ponte Vedra resident and cardiac electrophysiologist at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside. For more information on Dr. Magnano and his specialty treating atrial fibrillation, visit