In our all or nothing, winner take all, perfectionist world, small changes, even in the right direction, often seem insignificant and meaningless. When it comes to our health, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, small changes can make a big difference. Mariam Nelson, Ph.D., director of the Tufts Hancock Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Prevention might have said it best when she stated that “It doesn’t take a lot to make a major difference. It turns out the biggest benefit comes from moving out of the lowest level of fitness. The less active you are now, the more benefit you get from adding a small amount of exercise.” For example, according to Martha Grogan M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, moving just 10 minutes a day for someone who has been sedentary significantly lowers the risk of heart disease. Other studies published found that walking leisurely for 2 minutes every half hour, helped to manage blood sugar levels and that “gentle” walking 2 minutes every hour, lowered the risk of premature death by 33% compared to those who sat almost nonstop.
But small changes=big benefit not only applies to fitness, it applies to our diets, our weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Take a look at the list of small changes below and see the benefit you would gain by making them.
Consume at least a cup and a half of berries a week:
Women consuming the most blueberries and strawberries each week (3 or more ½ cup servings) were 34% less likely to suffer a heart attack during the 18 year study period. -Harvard School of Public Health
Consume one more serving of fruits or vegetables a day:
Compared to those have no fruit or vegetables, those having just one serving (1/2 cup), increased longevity significantly. Longevity increased with each additional serving. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Eat one more serving of whole grains per day:
For every serving of whole grains consumed, there was a: 7% lower risk of total deaths, 9% lower risk of cardiovascular-related deaths, and a 5% lower risk of cancer-related deaths. One serving = ½ cup of brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and other cooked grains, one slice of whole wheat bread or one ounce of whole grain bagel or English muffin National Health and Nutrition Examination Study
Small change in health risk factor can have a big impact on lowering risk as well:
For every 1% reduction in total cholesterol, the risk of a heart attack drops by 2-3% -National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
For every 1 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, the risk of stroke drops by 3% -National High Blood Pressure Education Program
Those maintaining a 3% weight loss, experience “clinically meaningful” reductions in triglycerides, blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. -American Heart Association
Every pound lost, reduces the impact on your weight-bearing joints by 5 lbs. To many, losing “just” 5 lbs. doesn’t sound too impressive, but if you listen to your ankles, knees, and hips they will thank you for reducing the stress on them by 25 lbs.
So as you can now see, small changes can really lead to big benefits. Pick one behavior or risk factor to work on and get started. Come to Hilton Head Health and learn more about the small changes that can make big benefits in your life with educational lectures and seminars.