Simple Diet Changes That Protect Your Heart

Forget diets that force complete restriction. A few simple swaps can reduce your risk of heart disease by 36 percent.

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Age is just a number

  • Finish Strong Challenge: Workout #2

  • Swap and save (your heart)

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Age Is Just A Number

The next time you think it’s too late to turn around your health, we hope you remember this study. Recent research found that people over the age of 85 can still add strength and muscle by training just three times per week. 

The study was the latest to demonstrate the incredible capability of the human body to adapt and become stronger when challenged. Scientists examined two different groups: some “young” adults (those aged 65 to 75) and older adults (85 and older). To the researcher's surprise, adults above 85 experienced muscle mass and strength gains comparable to or even greater than those of their 65 to 75-year-old counterparts. In fact, the older group added an average of 11 percent lean muscle and 46 percent more strength after 12 weeks of strength training.

Strength training goes beyond building muscles and looking fit—it plays a vital role in combating the effects of aging and reducing the risk of various diseases. Building and preserving muscle helps maintain a higher metabolic rate and promotes healthy weight management, reducing the risk of obesity and related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

Additionally, strength training contributes to strengthening bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

As we’ve discussed before, research suggests that training just once or twice per week reduces mortality risk by 40 percent compared to people who don’t strength train. To put that into context, that’s the same type of improvement you see when comparing a non-smoker to someone who has half a pack per day. 

No matter what has happened in the past or whether you’ve stepped foot in a gym, it’s never too late to start protecting your health. 

Finish Strong Challenge: Workout #2

Here is the second workout of The Finish Strong Challenge. Do the workouts, post on social media, tag me (@schwarzenegger), and include the hashtag #Arnoldschallenge to enter to win.

Remember, at the end of the month, we’ll randomly reward three people with $1,000 who are a part of Arnold’s Pump Club and have shared their workouts on social media. Consider it a little extra incentive to keep training during the holiday season. 

This workout is a lower-body workout that includes three circuits. You can do all of these exercises with just your bodyweight or dumbbells — or mix for some dumbbell exercises and some bodyweight. 

Circuit #1

For the first circuit, perform each exercise, resting 30 seconds between exercises and 2 minutes after you complete an entire circuit. After your last circuit, rest for 90 seconds and proceed to circuit #2.

  1. Walking lunge: 2-4 sets x 15 reps/leg

  2. Hip raise: 2-4 sets x 20 reps

  3. Plank: 2-4 sets x 45-second hold

Circuit #2

These exercises are done one after the other, with only 15 seconds of rest between each exercise. It’s a “mechanical drop set” where the first exercise will be the hardest, the next a little easier, and the last the easiest — but it will feel the hardest because of fatigue. After you complete one round, rest for 2 minutes, and then repeat for the number of sets that fit your level of expertise (fewer sets for beginners, more for more advanced). After finishing the sets, rest for 2 minutes and move to the final circuit. 

  1. Rear-foot elevated split squat: 2-4 sets x 10 reps/leg

  2. Reverse lunges: 2-4 sets x 12 reps/leg

  3. Squat (Bodyweight or goblet): 2-4 sets x 10-15 reps

Circuit #3

Perform these three exercises sequentially, resting 30-45 seconds between exercises and 90 seconds after you complete all three movements. Once you complete all sets, your workout is done!

  1. Step-ups: 2 set x 15 reps

  2. Kickstand deadlift: 2 sets x 8-15 reps

  3. Reverse crunch: 2 sets x 10-20 reps

Swap and Save (Your Heart)

You don’t need to completely reinvent your diet to become healthier. Instead, a few simple swaps could be all it takes to protect your heart from disease. 

A new study suggests that eating more nuts, whole grains, and legumes could reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

Many people discussing this study have suggested the main takeaway is to go vegan or vegetarian. That can be a good option, but it wasn’t what the study showed. Instead, it focused on how a few healthy swaps can dramatically impact your overall health. 

The researchers followed people for an average of 19 years, analyzed the foods they ate, and examined correlations to disease. They found that replacing one serving of processed meat (think deli meat or hot dogs) with a serving of whole grains, nuts, or legumes could reduce your risk of cardiovascular or coronary heart disease by up to 36 percent.

The research did not say you could never eat processed or red meat. Instead, it’s about limiting those foods, eating more foods loaded with fiber, and managing the total amount of saturated fat you consume. (Again, fat is not bad. And saturated fat is ok, as long as it doesn’t lead to significant increases in LDL and apoB levels in your blood.) 

If you want to take the stress out of dieting and see long-term success, start by making small, sustainable changes. Trying to change everything at once — or removing everything you love — tends to be a short-term fix that leads to long-term frustration. 

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell