How To Cut Your Risk of Heart Disease By 20%

New research suggests a few extra flights of stairs can help reduce your risk of stroke.

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. No one likes to feel tricked, especially about their health. That’s why every weekday, we make sense of the confusing world of wellness with quick tips designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Goal-setting gone wrong

  • The best reason to take the stairs

  • The 10-minute brain boost

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Goal-Setting Gone Wrong

Do us a favor: take a quick look at your resolutions or goals for 2024. How many new habits are you trying to build?

It’s time to make some cuts if it's a long list. We’re not trying to be negative; rather, we want to help turn your resolutions into reality.

Research suggests the more goals you try to tackle — and the more complicated you make them — the less likely you are to achieve your desired outcome.

In fact, Stanford researcher BJ Fogg suggests you can build a maximum of three new habits simultaneously. So, even if you’re extremely motivated, you want to make sure you’re putting yourself in the best position possible to turn a goal into a habit. 

While it’s good to chase some discomfort to support growth, the science of behavioral change shows that too much friction can limit success, so you want to make sure each goal is challenging but achievable. That’s why The Pump app Habit Tracker allows a maximum of three goals and helps you focus on small, daily actions. 

For example, if you want to get in better shape, make the goal a realistic amount of exercise each day — such as 15 minutes. Want to become a better cook? Focus on basic recipes with simpler ingredients. Want to get up earlier? Focus on fewer stimulants or screen time later in the day.

Oftentimes, the road to success is built with small, gradual wins that build over time. The more you succeed with tiny habits, the more likely you are to stick to the plan, gain confidence, take on bigger challenges, and achieve better results.

The Best Reason To Take The Stairs

In the book The Comfort Crisis, author Michael Easter shared the shocking statistic that only 2 percent of people take the stairs when an escalator is available. That might not convince you to “go the extra mile,” but this might:

Research suggests that taking the stairs daily can cut your risk of heart disease or stroke by 20 percent. 

The study used data from more than 458,000 people and tracked their health over 12 years. The scientists found a clear relationship between those who walked stairs daily and a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. The amount of walking needed to see significant protection was fairly small. Walking five flights of stairs — or about 50 steps — per day was enough to increase heart protection and reduce disease. 

Most impressively, walking stairs appeared to offset those at a higher risk for cardiovascular health. Escalators and elevators might be convenient, but remind yourself that just 50 steps could be all your heart needs to become stronger and more resilient.

The 10-Minute Brain Boost

The next time you feel yourself fading at work, tell your boss that Arnold said you should take ten.

A recent study found that a 10-minute break every few hours increases work productivity, helps you push through brain fog, reduces mental fatigue, and boosts creativity.

That’s because innovative thoughts are usually sparked when you let your mind wander. It’s why some people have some of their best thoughts in the shower or during a good workout.

It’s easy to get caught up in working longer hours, but you’ll likely find that a few strategic breaks throughout the day can give your mind the jolt you need to do more and burn out less.

But here’s the catch: avoid scrolling your social feed if you want the brain-boosting benefits. That activity is more mentally draining.

Instead, get outside, find something funny (YouTube could become your best friend), read a book, listen to music you love, and do a hobby or activity you enjoy. The break is half the battle, but what you do with those 10 minutes determines if you return to work more energized or empty.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell