Family indoor dance

Small sustainable changes for heart health

New Year’s Resolutions you can stick to – Small sustainable changes that benefit your heart

19 December 2022

We’ve all set New Year’s resolutions we’re determined to keep – be that losing weight, going vegan or even climbing Mount Kosciuszko.

But, whilst some of us achieve these goals, it’s far too easy to fall at the first hurdle. Why? A big reason could be you’re setting overly ambitious goals.

So, this year how about adopting a new mindset that will see you stick to your resolutions month after month? There are plenty of incremental changes you can make this year that will deliver lasting impact and also improve your heart health.

Try different takeaway meals

When we think of takeaway we often think of high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods. But there’s a whole world of nutritious takeaway options to explore.

Look for meals that are packed with vegetables. Think stir fries, salads, burrito bowls, sandwiches, sushi, and the like. Swapping your usual meat choices for vegetarian options will also help to up your vegetable quota.

Portions can be large when ordering out, so try cutting back by sharing meals with friends, or by ordering a smaller size and adding a side salad at home. Pre-packaged green leafy salad mixes are a good option to have on hand if you’re time-poor.

You can also keep your heart and wallet happy by saving any leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

When ordering, ask for sauces and dressings on the side so you can control how much you use. These condiments can often be high in salt and sugar, so best to use in moderation.

Just dance (or ride, or swim…)

Not all of us are keen on spending an hour a day on the treadmill. And that’s ok because there are many ways to move your body while still reaping the heart health benefits of exercise.

Are you a nature enthusiast? Organise bushwalks with friends and enjoy the scenery and good company. Love the beach? Maybe this could be the year you finally get those surf lessons. Have kids? Take them on a family bike ride. Want to destress? Sign up for a weekend yoga class.

Older woman bushwalking hiking

Think about the activities you’ve always wanted to try and start doing them this year. Organising to meet up with friends, family, or work colleagues is a great way to make it a social activity that you’re more likely to stick to.

Just make sure you don’t over-commit - this is where many of us go wrong with our New Year’s resolutions.

If you currently do little to no exercise, aiming to hit the gym every day is probably not going to be maintainable. Instead, plan a couple of sessions to get you started and work up from there. Also remember that going for a walk is steeped in health benefits and you don’t even need to reach 10,000 steps a day to reap the rewards.

In fact, there are many ways to get moving, so if you don’t enjoy a particular activity there’s always more to try.

Learn some new recipes

Making changes for a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to sit down to boring, bland meals. If you like to cook, then something as simple as incorporating a new vegetable-packed recipe into your regular rotation can help increase your fruit and vegetable intake.

Adding vegetables that are packed full of fibre, along with foods high in unsaturated fats, like avocado, legumes, eggs and nuts, will do wonders for your heart health.

Jump online and look for recipes that are full of plant foods, swap recipes with friends, or organise a dinner party where everyone brings their favourite vegetarian dish.

If you subscribe to a meal service, try swapping a red meat option for at least one vegetarian meal each week, with the aim of working up from there. This is a great way to reduce your saturated fat consumption (as long as you go easy on the cheese) and decrease your risk of heart disease. You may also find a new favourite meal in the process!

Know your heart health numbers

When was the last time you had your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checked?

Kick off the New Year by booking in for a heart health check. Knowing these numbers will help you better understand your current heart health and can be a powerful motivator when you’re looking to make sustainable lifestyle changes.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years