Summer resolutions: Time to shape up

August 4, 2010 3:23:33 PM PDT
Many of us make New Year's resolutions to get healthier, but why wait until 2011? It turns out summer may be the best time to shape up.

Sitting all day long rather than being on your feet or walking is linked to an almost two-fold risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to a recent study. The summer's the perfect time to start lowering your risk.

Summer is time for the outdoors, for light eating, and exercise. Yet, many do not use the nice weather to get up and be active. Sitting down most of the day is a fact of the workplace. For accountant Joe Cozzacrea, who's in front of a computer all day, sitting all day was nearly fatal when a heart attack dropped him to the office floor 18 months ago.

"Luckily, someone in the office knew CPR and were able to keep me alive until the ambulance got there," said Cozzacrea.

Cozzacrea survived and got to this heart rehab program at New York University (NYU), where he learned how to extend his life. In summer, it's actually easier. The first thing to do is exercise. It's easier when it's warm to use the parks for walking and jogging. Cozzacrea started working out right after his attack.

"Since then I've lost 70-75 pounds," he said.

Surprisingly, the workplace is a great place to start. For example, when you're changing location at work, take the stairs instead of the elevator.

If you smoke, it time to stop. It increases your heart attack and cancer risk.

Another step you should take is to eat light, such as a salad with fish or chicken for lunch. This is a perfect summer dish to help you lose weight and reduce your cholesterol.

Added to exercise, it's also a way to drop some pounds if you need to. Obesity is another risk for heart trouble. The changes will happen slowly, so give yourself time.

"If you set small achievable goals that can be obtained in a month or two months, you'll keep sending positive feedback, 'I'm doing well, I'm helping myself.'" Dr. Jonathan Whiteson of the NYU Langone Medical Center said.

Cozzacrea helped himself. He stopped smoking, eats better and works out.

"Its a bit of a commitment but once into it, its a bit of an addiction, because you actually feel very good," he said, about the changes he has made.

Feeling better about how you look and being healthier are real motivators. To stay motivated, involve your family and friends in eating better at home, and get them out to exercise with you. It will be easier to convince them now when it's still light out at the end of the day.