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How to Have a Heart-Healthy New Year

  • Category: Blog
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  • Written By: St. John's Health
How to Have a Heart-Healthy New Year

Leading a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle in 2021

Although we've gotten into the groove of the New Year, it isn't too late to make healthful resolutions that you can stick to! With February being American Heart Month, what better time than now to show the muscle in your chest some extra love and care?


The health experts at St. John’s are here to outline some ways that you can look after your heart health in 2021.

Get your Heartrate Up

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. While this may seem like an ambitious goal, getting your heart rate up even just a little can help to improve your heart health.


Exercising also helps to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels. When you’re physically active, your body is more sensitive to insulin. During and after exercise, it’s easier for the cells within your muscles to use insulin. Physical activity also helps your muscles to better absorb and use the sugar in your blood as an energy source.


Getting regular exercise also helps to reduce your risk of developing the following heart-related health problems:

  • High cholesterol
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiac arrest
  • High blood pressure

Winter Activities

While working on 150 minutes of activity may seem difficult during colder weather, there are plenty of winter activities that can help you get up and active. Here are some fun seasonal activities that you and your family can try to stay active all winter long:

  • Ice skating
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Skiing
  • Snowball fights
  • Building a snowman
  • Hiking
  • Sledding
  • Build a snow fort
  • Cross-country skiing

Relax and De-Stress

Whether you’ve been caught up in stand-still traffic or you’ve been worried about a big presentation—we’ve all experienced elevated levels of stress. While it’s normal to experience added stress every now and then, chronic stress and prolonged exposure to your body’s stress response can negatively affect your heart health.


Along with exacerbating existing health concerns, it can also lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms that can further worsen your health. However, there are many ways that you can keep your stress levels under control in a healthy way.

Get Better Quality Sleep

Research has shown that most adults can benefit from getting at least an additional hour of good-quality rest each night. Getting enough sleep is important when it comes to supporting your physical health because it allows your body to relax and recover. The next time you’re feeling emotionally overloaded, try heading to bed an hour or two early to allow yourself to relax and unwind.

Stay active

Along with supporting your physical health, staying active helps to reduce your stress levels and effectively stabilizes your mood. When you’re physically active, your brain produces endorphins—which are chemicals that reduce your pain levels and make it easier for you to get good-quality rest.


Whether you prefer taking a virtual yoga class or playing a pick-up game with your friends, the next time you’re not feeling your best emotionally, try exercising for a sense of relief.

Keep a Journal

Although you may have kept a diary or journal in your youth, it is worth continuing this practice for the rest of your life. Writing has been proven to be a cathartic process that helps you to work through complex emotions without the fear of judgment from others. Writing is an excellent coping mechanism that allows you to have the emotional release you need when you're feeling particularly stressed.

Monitor Your Cholesterol Intake

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that circulates in your blood that is required to create cells, make essential vitamins, and produce hormones within the body. When your cholesterol levels are too high, you’re at an increased risk for developing heart disease and other heart-related health issues.


Although all the cholesterol that you need is produced by the liver, you also take in additional cholesterol from the foods that you eat. This makes it essential that you maintain a healthy diet and understand the different types of cholesterol.

Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) Cholesterol

Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) Cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol. This is because LDL leads to plaque buildup in your arteries, with the potential of causing cardiovascular issues.


In order to lower your LDL levels, it is advised that you limit your consumption of the following foods:

  • Foods containing trans fats
  • Processed foods
  • Fast food
  • Fried foods
  • Fatty cuts of beef
  • Full-fat dairy products

It is also recommended that you limit your consumption of saturated fats, red and processed meats, sodium, and sugary foods and drinks.

High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) Cholesterol

High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) Cholesterol is considered the “good” cholesterol. This is because HDL helps to carry LDL to the liver, where it can be metabolized and removed from the body.


Foods that increase your HDL levels include:

  • Olive oil
  • Whole grains like oatmeal and wild rice
  • High fiber fruits like apples and prunes
  • Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
  • Nuts like almonds and pistachios
  • Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach
  • Berries like blueberries and raspberries
  • Seeds like chia and flax seeds
  • Avocados
  • Green tea

Quit Smoking

Smoking and using tobacco products are responsible for about 20% of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the United States each year. While most people know that smoking is bad for your general health, many don't realize the extent to which it harms your heart.

Increases Your Risk for Heart Disease

Smoking cigarettes and using tobacco products puts you at an increased risk for the following heart-related health issues:

  • Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries)
  • Increased strain on the heart
  • Thicker and stickier blood

Benefits of Quitting

Quitting smoking is one of the best things that you can do to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease. Some of the many benefits of quitting include:

  • Reduces coronary heart disease sharply in the first 2 years of cessation
  • Reduces the risk of death from heart disease
  • Reduces the risk of having a first heart attack or another heart attack
  • Lowers your heart rate

Cardiology Services in Jackson, Wilson, and Teton County

From echocardiograms to cardiac rehabilitation, St. John’s Cardiology provides full-time local care for patients in Jackson and the surrounding areas. Our team works with your primary care provider to treat and manage your heart condition.