Many of us start the New Year with good intentions, but without the right support and motivation our will power quickly wanes. National charity, Heart Research UK, believes that a little give and take could hold the key to your success.
The charity’s new 50th Anniversary campaign, Give up, Take up campaign, challenges people to give their heart a boost by giving up an unhealthy habit for 50 days while simultaneously taking up a new heart healthy hobby. Heart Research UK believes that making a commitment to continue your New Year’s resolution for 50 days, while also learning a new skill and, asking friends and family to support and sponsor you, is the secret to success.
Give up smoking and take up knitting
For example, if you plan to give up smoking also take up knitting or crochet to increase your chance of success. Within 50 tobacco free days your body will experience some major changes as your body rids itself of nicotine. Your circulation, smell and taste will improve, breathing will become easier and many will notice an improvement in their energy levels. When the urge to grab your lighter arises, grab your knitting needles or crochet hook instead. Knitting and crochet have been evidenced to lower heart rates, blood pressure and stress, as will keep your hands busy, distracting you from the need to hold a cigarette.
Give up alcohol and fizzy drinks and take up drinking more water
Give up alcohol and fizzy drinks for 50 days and you might find it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. Drinking six to eight glasses of water and pure unsweetened fruit juice a day will give your heart and skin a boost. To make it more appealing add fruit slices to water, soda water to fresh fruit juice or slices of lemon and lime to low-calorie tonic water.
Heart Research UK’s Lifestyle Officer Lucy Chesson said: ‘Alcohol and fizzy drinks contain excess calories so over consumption can lead to weight gain.
‘Heavy alcohol drinking also makes the muscles of the heart weaker, so it can’t do its job efficiently and may lead to heart failure.’
Give up being inactive and take up a sporting challenge
Give up being inactive. Inactivity is a leading cause of heart disease and too many people fail to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. Furthermore, excessive sitting (at work or at home) is associated with lower energy expenditure and poor glucose control, putting people at increased risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes, even in those who pound the pavements or the treadmill in the gym each evening. Regularly working through lunch also impacts on our mental health and can lead to afternoon slumps in mood and productivity.
Lucy added: ‘There are many ways people can get active to improve their heart health and mental well-being too. Heart Research UK offers many take up challenges, use your lunch break to swim the distance of the channel, walk a marathon or even complete a triathlon.”
Give up sweets and take up a pledge to eat your five-a-day. The charity has a useful reminder that fresh, dried, tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables all count towards your target.