Despite the best of intentions, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult at any age! In today’s fast-paced society, it can seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with eating right and exercising.
But living healthy doesn’t have to be such a challenge! A little planning and prep can go a long way to helping you feel more energized and focused throughout the day as you keep your heart healthy and strong.
In honor of American Heart Month, we’re offering the following tips and tricks to help you on your way to a healthier heart, one small change at a time:
1. Keep moving: According to the American Heart Association, inactivity can double your risk for heart disease! Just 30 minutes of walking a day can help reduce your risk. Pressed for time? Try parking further away from your destination, taking the stairs and walking during your lunch break. You’ll be surprised how quickly your steps add up!
2. Eat fresh: The closer a food is to its natural state, the better it is for you. Shop for your groceries in the perimeter of store – that’s where you’ll find fresh produce, low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat. Try to avoid processed or refined foods and foods that are high in sodium or sugar. When you get home, cut up fruit and veggies so they’re easy to snack on throughout the week. Toss ingredients into the slow-cooker the night before and turn it on in the morning so dinner is ready when you get home. Check out the following websites for more tips:
- Visit the American Heart Association's Nutrition webpage for dietary recommendations that support good nutrition and promote heart health.
- Check out SparkPeople.com’s slideshow 12 Foods to Eat for a Healthy Ticker. (Need an incentive? Chocolate made the cut!)
- Visit Eating Well for quick, delicious (and healthy) recipes.
3. Maintain a healthy weight: Physical activity and nutrition go hand-in-hand when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, but where do you start? It can be helpful to calculate your body mass index or BMI to determine how many calories you need a day to either maintain or lose weight. To calculate your BMI, plug your height and weight into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adult BMI Calculator. The CDC also offers helpful tools to determine your individual needs and track your progress.
4. Quit smoking: Studies show smoking can lead to a host of chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Need help snuffing your urge to smoke? The American Cancer Society offers a Guide to Quitting Smoking that will help you kick the habit.
5. Manage blood pressure: Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. Sometimes called “the silent killer,” one in three adults has high blood pressure, but 21% don’t know it. The best approach is to schedule a screening with your physician to check your baseline blood pressure. Depending on the results, your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage blood pressure. It can also be helpful to manage stress, limit alcohol and adhere to the tips and tricks listed above.