Happy New Year!
I’m not usually a fan of New Year’s resolutions. You know the problem. There’s usually a lot of talk in late December and early January….and all too little action for the rest of the year.
But I suppose this is as good a time as any to change direction or improve one’s course in life. For those who are interested (and this should probably be EVERY athlete), here are my thoughts about some useful, practical resolutions for the new year….for your heart health….that I’ve culled from our discussions these past 4 months.
1. Take charge. Become knowledgeable about your cardiovascular health. We’ll continue to explore a variety of issues here at the blog and I’ll be sure to point out other web-based and print resources that may be useful particularly to athletes.
2. Put a doctor on your team. I’ve talked here at the blog about the issue of “Who Needs a Doctor?” Your team ought to include a variety of resources….a coach, a confidant, training partners, a massage therapist, etc. Don’t leave out the doctor. A long-term relationship with a physician will provide many benefits over the years, I promise!
3. Get screened for cardiovascular disease. Work with your doctor to get screened for the common cardiovascular problems that may cause sudden death in athletes. Talk with your doctor about getting an ECG and an echocardiogram.
4. Work with your doctor, especially as you enter your 30’s or 40’s, to manage your risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD). This is the most important heart-related problem for athletes in middle age.
5. Eat right. There are probably many ways to go about improving your diet. We’ve talked here at the blog about the Mediterranean Diet, but that’s just one approach. For the past 18 months, I’ve been suggesting the “Real Food Diet” to my patients and friends. The idea came from my friends at Endurance Corner. Put simply, just: 1) eat real food (lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, products at the store with fewer than 5 ingredients); 2) avoid pasta; and 3) avoid refined sugar after 2 pm. Keeping it simple will make it workable for many athletes.
This is a short list, but doing just these few things now….and for years to come….will make a big difference in your risk for developing heart and vascular disease.
Let’s build a healthier 2010 together. Happy New Year!