p.p1 health. Wanting to lower my riskp.p1 health. Wanting to lower my risk

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College is full of many surprises. Experiencing new things, living on your own, and an abundance of appetizing food that’s available to snag whenever you please. Because of this, I decided it was time to take responsibility and make some lifestyle changes to better myself and lower my risk of many diseases that are prevalent all across the board varying from gender, age, and race. I chose to focus on Cardiovascular Disease because it is very common among many factors. The prevalence of the disease is “About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths”(CDC). Cardiovascular disease is a result of the build-up of plaques in the blood vessels and heart, because of this, the blood vessels thicken, making it difficult for blood to get to various parts of your body. This damage can lead to many other health problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack, obesity, diabetes, etc. Many of these issues within the body are due to correctable problems such lack of exercise, unhealthy diet/weight, and smoking. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.” (CDC), and if these simple steps to incorporate more exercise, better diet, or an alternative to the harsh chemicals from smoking into your life, Cardiovascular Disease rates could decrease drastically.  
I chose to improve my physical health. Wanting to lower my risk for Cardiovascular Disease and maintain a healthy lifestyle allows for me to better myself while bettering my future health. College can be a blessing and a curse at the same time, and this is why I wanted to create a routine I could follow to stay on track to improve my physical health. Among college-aged adults “More than one-half of young adults aged 18–24 have at least 1 coronary heart disease”(Advances). Although Cardiovascular Disease is not as prevalent in young adults, early detection can improve your chances of promoting lifestyle changes to lower your risk of the disease worsening. I planned to do this, by creating a week-by-week exercise plan that consisted of weightlifting and cardio. The cardio will help with endurance, blood circulation, increase my metabolism and give my body more energy throughout the day. The weightlifting will help with overall strength and muscle build-up to allow for an increase in maintaining a healthy-looking body inside and out, as I get older. “Getting at least 150 minutes a week (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity can put you at a lower risk for Cardiovascular Disease”(CDC) Along-side the exercise plan, I incorporated a healthy diet to create an equal balance with exercise and food. Without a healthy diet, eating unhealthy foods that are high in fats, sodium and sugars can cause the plaque buildup in your blood vessels and heart which still puts you at risk whether you are exercising or not.  
The health behavior theory that I used to guide me through this process was the “Social Cognitive Theory”. I chose this theory because it reflects on human behavior in three, very important factors including personal experiences, environmental influences, and behavior. To summarize, people learn not only from personal experiences but also from observation of others and reflecting off of the end result of the specific action. For example, during my experience with my change, incorporating setting a goal, have friends exercise with me, and creating self-control/self-monitoring systems allowed for me to be successful with my behavior changes. Setting a goal is extremely motivational during the process of change. Setting a goal for myself allowed me to devote myself to the goal, which boosted my confidence and overall self-efficacy. Having friends involved in my change was perfect for observational learning from the environmental component of this theory. Although I had my own workout routine, I got to see how they incorporated different variations of exercise. We pushed each other to our limits and kept each other focused on our goals. Self-control to me was one of the most important factors in this challenge. This enabled me to learn on my own without any external reinforcement. Which is exactly what being at college is for, to learn to grow up without having anyone there to tell you how to do it or keep you on track.  
Exercising and a healthy diet were my initial prevention and health promotion strategies; however, I adopted managing low-stress levels. I learned that those who are stressed may do one of many things, such as, begin to smoke, drink excessively, and raise their blood pressures. Stress can also lead to depression, which can cause someone to seclude themselves and “shut down” These factors are all harmful to your health and put you at higher risk for Cardiovascular Disease. “Early studies reported the prevalence of depression to be from 18% to 60% in patients with CAD.” (JAMA) Learning to manage this, doing things such as exercising, relaxing in a bath, listening to music and calming down can help maintain a less-stressful environment for you.  
During the course of the class and beginning my new health behavior change, I had many ups-and-downs. I found what helped and what didn’t work at all. The whole experience of challenging yourself to reaching a goal is an amazing feeling. I found that a warm-up run to the gym always prepared be and got me in-gear ready to go, listening to motivational pop music while working out, and the warm-down jog back was my best routine. One time I forgot my headphones and the workout wasn’t as fun without the music. Involving friends who wanted to work out as well helped me to learn new exercises and different workout routines that I could incorporate into my routine. There were some times more difficult than others to get myself to the gym. Especially if I had a busy day or was stressed about loads of homework. However, the alternative to me missing a day during the week took a day out of my weekend. This strategy kept me wanting to work out during the week rather than having to given up one of my “break days” Overall, I feel very successful with my progress from when I first began this change. I plan to continue this routine and maintain a low risk for Cardiovascular Disease. 

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