People who don’t overlook the importance of heart health are already aware of the guidelines: enough sleep, healthy foods, regular physical activity, and less drinking. Also, there are some who completely ignore these recommendations. A recent survey found that only 3 percent of American adults take physicians up on their advice and make radical changes to both their schedule, as well as diet.
However, researchers say that a major overhaul is not always the answer, especially for people who still battle with addictions, such as nicotine addiction, or simply don’t want to give up on guilty pleasures. For those people, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s head of cardiovascular sciences, David Goff has good news: small changes add up in time and have a positive impact on the overall heart health of an individual just as much as major changes.
“Any small change you make in a positive direction is good for you. It’s not an all-or-nothing phenomenon”, David Goff says.
For example, most people say they do not have time for regular physical activity because of the way their working hours are spanned throughout the day. According to official guidelines, people at risk of heart disease should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity most days of the week. Hence, one could draw substantial health benefits from engaging in anywhere between 150 to 300 minutes of exercise each week, according to a 2011 study conducted by researchers at Columbia’s University of South Carolina.
However, David Goff says the guidelines are subjective to what is feasible for most people. So, even if health experts deemed at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week ideal, it is still possible to benefit from much less than that, said Goff. The study noted that just getting up from time to time and walking around the house for a minute or two improves health by a considerable degree. Moreover, moving around for as little as eight minutes every now and then, a few times a day, provides the same benefits of a 30-minute-long uninterrupted workout session. Ultimately, the same applies for dietary changes, Goff said. Hence, only by replacing soda with other sugary drinks helps to eliminate several hundred calories a day and control weight, the researchers noted.
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