Gradual Lifestyle Changes Are Best

With the recent announcement that the limit for normal blood pressure would be lowered, thus suddenly classifying a lot more people with blood pressure problems that could contribute to heart disease, it's a good time to review how simple it can be for many people to control their blood pressure and heart health. Granted, some people will need medication and other medical intervention to control their health, but still, lifestyle factors remain among the biggest contributors.

Easing In

You should talk to your doctor about specific nutritional and physical guidelines because each person has their own reaction to different ways of eating (some do better on vegetarian diets, some on diets that allow lean meats, and so on) and moving (some like running, others like yoga, and so on).

However, there's one general rule that applies to everyone: If you have to make changes, ease in. Making a number of drastic changes at once rarely works over the long term because it's too much for people to handle in a short time. Invariably, some of the old habits start working their way back into a person's life.

Talk to your doctor about relative ranking -- what are the most important changes that you should work on first, and what are the ones that can take place after you've got the urgent ones in place? For example, maybe you've really got to cut down on the sweets you're eating as soon as possible because you're really overdoing it with those, while increasing the amount of greens you eat might be less urgent because you already eat some and it would be better if you ate more. Certainly, you should eat more greens, but cutting down on the sugar may be the more urgent change that you have to make at this time.

The same goes for exercise. If you're out of shape and sedentary, you're not going to benefit from suddenly amping up exercise to two or three hours each day because that would be much too stressful. (Two to three hours of exercise each day would be too stressful for most people, even those already in shape!)

Start with some light walking and maybe a few basic bodyweight exercises; your doctor can give you more personalized advice. Expand from there with the help of a physical therapist or trainer who has experience working with people aiming for heart health. If you're already in shape and exercising, the trainer can help you increase your activity in a safe manner. You may benefit from adding activities like yoga.

Approaching heart health and heart disease care in a gradual manner is a lot saner than trying to redo your entire life in a week. But if you do have to make a lot of changes, you should still work with your doctor or a heart specialist to ensure the changes are made correctly and have a beneficial effect.