Four weeks into the new year and the resolve of all those resolutions is starting to crumble.
The folks at the American Heart Association couldn't have picked a better time to publish an easy-to-understand online guide to a long and healthy life. Their suggestions look nothing like the melt-pounds-away-with-chocolate diets or never-exercise-again fitness plans that show up in advertising campaigns, particularly at this time of year.
No, the heart association's recommendations look familiar. Don't smoke, watch your weight, eat healthy foods, get some exercise and control your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Just because there is nothing new in the list of dos and don'ts doesn't mean there's not a lot to learn from the simple health assessment, available at www.heart.org/MyLifeCheck.
Doctors say the quiz is an important first step because people often believe they are healthier than they really are.
The test is easy, takes less than five minutes to complete, and immediately provides results. At the start, test-takers are asked if they want to make a resolution right away, but that's not necessary. The 20 questions include basics of height, weight, age and diet. More detailed results will be provided if you know your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugars; if not, the suggestions are more general.
Either way, the AHA's Simple Seven assessment concludes with suggestions for how to start making key changes that can improve the length and quality of life.
Dr. Clyde Yancy, president of the heart association and medical director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute in Dallas, said the organization is pushing for a 20 percent improvement of the cardiovascular health of Americans by 2020, a result that would reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.
Do your part. Log in, take the test and then make new resolutions -- and keep them.