A new study has found that the chances of having a heart attack can be reduced by 86%. And to achieve this all you have to do is exercise regularly, eat lots of veggies, not smoke, barely drink, and watch your waistline. So why isn’t everybody doing it? That is the basic question that health psychologists have been examining for the past 30 to 40 years. And the short, simple answer is this: Just about everything we do that’s unhealthy in the long run — including eating, drinking alcohol, and not moving our bodies — feels good in the short run. And everything that’s good for us—exercising, eating less pasta and bread, not smoking if someone’s a smoker—takes effort, and that can be unpleasant. That is the basic problem.
A new study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a clear reduction in heart attack risk for each way the participants lived healthily, which included the following guidelines: walking or bicycling for more than 40 minutes per day plus working out for more than an hour a week; sticking to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, reduced-fat dairy products, and fish; drinking very little (an ounce or less of alcohol per day); not smoking; and keeping the circumference of one’s waist less than 37 inches. It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks. But it is surprising how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors.