Healthy Living – Towards a Healthy Heart and a Healthy Weight reduces risk factors and allows you to enjoy life more.

Your heart needs care for life. A healthy heart is about enjoying a healthy lifestyle and making this part of your everyday life. It is also about taking positive steps to reduce risk factors.

The good news is that if you lead a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

The Heart Foundation’s top five tips for sticking with healthy living resolutions

· Small changes to your eating habits can make a big difference. Try switching to reduced fat milk instead of full fat milk, ditching the cakes or biscuits for morning tea and choosing a piece of fruit or opting for wholegrain bread instead of white.
· Look for ways to build physical activity into your day. Walk or ride a bike instead of driving. If you must drive, park further away and walk the extra distance rather than driving around for the perfect park, or take a break during the day and go for a 15 minute walk.
· Review the changes you’ve made and note how you are feeling. Changes should be long term so it’s important to be enjoying your life and feeling good about yourself.
· Reward yourself – when a change becomes a habit, buy yourself some new clothes, or visit a place you enjoy.
· Keep going with your changes – it’s normal to have days when it all becomes too hard, but don’t worry about it. Just keep going with your changes the next day.

Healthy Weight

The keys to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight are to enjoy healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Why does weight matter?

People come in all shapes and sizes and what might be a healthy weight for one person isn’t necessarily healthy for another. It’s not healthy to be too thin or to carry too much body fat.

The problem with carrying too much body fat (medically referred to as being overweight) is that it can increase your risk of a number of health problems. These include:

· coronary heart disease
· diabetes
· high blood pressure
· high blood cholesterol
· gall bladder disease
· joint problems e.g. gout, arthritis and joint pain
· sleep problems e.g. sleep apnoea
· certain types of cancer.

Your risk of developing these health conditions depends not just on your weight, but also on other risk factors that you may have.

Why do we put on weight?

Body weight is affected by a number of factors. The two key factors are:
· The amount of energy (kilojoules) that we put into our bodies from food and drinks.
· The amount of energy (kilojoules) that we use up through physical activity and other daily activities.
Put simply, it’s all about what goes in and what gets used up.

If the amount of energy (kilojoules) you take into your body through food and drinks is more than you are using up through physical activity and daily activities then you will gain weight.

If you take in the same amount of energy (kilojoules) through food and drinks that you are using up through physical activity and daily activities, then your weight will stay the same.

If the amount of energy (kilojoules) you take in through food and drinks is less than you are using up through physical activity and daily activities, then you will lose weight.

Is my weight a health risk?

Some people think they are overweight when they aren’t; others think their weight is fine, when it isn’t. While you can generally tell if you’ve put on weight by your clothes being tighter or having to loosen your belt a notch or two, this won’t tell you if you are overweight.

The best way to find out if your weight is a health risk is to check with your doctor.
If you are already overweight, it is important to try and stop gaining more weight. This will help to reduce your level of risk.

If you can manage to lose some of the extra kilos then that will be even better for your health. However, even if you don’t manage to lose any weight, what’s important is being physically active, eating healthily and looking after yourself so that you can achieve the best health.

Excess weight around your middle is a greater health risk:

Your health can be affected by how much you weigh as well as by your body shape. Men often carry their excess weight around their middle, while women often carry their excess weight on their hips and thighs.

Carrying excess weight around your middle (being ‘apple shaped) is more of a health risk than if your excess weight is on your hips and thighs (being ‘pear shaped’). The so-called ‘pear shape’ is actually a healthier body shape than being ‘apple shaped.

Key points for healthy weight loss:

· Healthy weight loss takes time – so give yourself time.
· Changes need to be for the long term – make changes to your eating patterns and physical activity levels that you can live with for the rest of your life.
· It’s about you – make changes that suit you, not what suits someone else.
· Take small steps – don’t try and do everything at once.
· Don’t be put off by slow progress. You may lose weight one week, then go for a few weeks without losing any.
· Losing weight the healthy way is not about short-term diets or running marathons – healthy eating and regular physical activity are what count. Reducing the amount of time you spend sitting will also help.
· Forget the scales – your weight can go up and down from day to day. If you want to weigh yourself, try not to do it more than once a week.
· Measure your achievements in other ways rather than by how much you weigh. For example, whether your clothes are looser, whether you’ve cut down on the amount of TV you watch and whether you can do things without getting tired.
· Small amounts of weight loss, or stopping weight gain, will have a big impact on your overall health.
· Forget fad/crash diets – they may give results in the short term, but they generally don’t help you keep weight off in the longer term. Some may even be harmful to your health.
· Seek advice and guidance – speak with your doctor, Accredited Practising Dietician or a physical activity health professional about your weight.

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