4 Healthy Lifestyle and Healthy Heart Factors for Women
It may come as no surprise that leading a healthy lifestyle has physical benefits, but it bears repeating. It’s easy to overlook the impact of some of our most basic lifestyle choices on both our mental and physical health. But those everyday habits that you form around how you eat and sleep, whether you exercise and how you manage stress have mental and physical consequences.
Stress and problematic lifestyle choices often interact with each exacerbating the other. For many people healthy life choices go out the window when they are stressed. Often, when we’re overwhelmed or feeling under pressure, we try to relieve the stress by doing those things that, in the long run, contribute to physical and mental health problems. Smoking, eating unhealthy foods, failing to exercise and, as a result, gaining extra weight are common unhealthy behaviors.
Not feeling well, physically, because of weight gain or smoking can then contribute to increased life stress.
According to a study in the July 6 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association, “Adhering to a healthy lifestyle, including not smoking, exercising regularly, having a low body weight and eating a healthy diet, appears to lower the risk of sudden cardiac death in women.”
Using data collected as part of the Nurses’ Health Study, Stephanie E. Chiuve, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues examined the association between a healthy lifestyle and risk of sudden cardiac death.
Women at low risk for all four lifestyle factors had a 92 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death when compared with women at low risk for none of the four lifestyle factors.
Tips for making changes in unhealthy habits:
- Begin by becoming aware of how and when you are engaging in unhealthy behaviors. For example, if you tend to eat unhealthy foods, take a week and notice your eating habits. Notice both the times that you eat healthier and those that you don’t.
- Ask yourself what contributes to unhealthy behaviors. Is it stress, lack of time or energy?
- Commit to making healthy changes. People who commit to change – especially those who make public commitments—are more likely to stick to changes. Make a decision to change and let the people around you know that you are doing it.
- Start with manageable changes. If you have several areas in which you need to make changes, you may want to start with one and build change in over time.
- Create rewards for yourself. Change is hard, especially changes in how you live your day-to-day life. Take time to stop and reward positive changes.
Photo by ANOLDENT, available under A Creative Commons attribution license.
Matta, C. (2011). 4 Healthy Lifestyle and Healthy Heart Factors for Women. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/dbt/2011/06/4-healthy-lifestyle-and-healthy-heart-factors-for-women/