Recently, we discussed the first tip in the American Heart Association’s Simple 7, a set of tips designed to reduce your risk for heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in the United States, with prevention being the key.
Tip #2: Make every effort to achieve and maintain a healthy weight
More than 2/3 of Americans are overweight. To determine if you are at a healthy weight, calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI tells you your risk for health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. If your BMI is over 30, you are at high risk for heart disease. When you are overweight, your heart and blood vessels have to work much harder to pump your blood. The extra weight puts added strain on your joints and other organs. You can reduce your risk for heart disease and other conditions by lowering your BMI and losing the extra weight. Losing even a few pounds can dramatically decrease the workload on your heart and improve your blood pressure.
Learn more about our weight management programs.
Tip #3: Get active and walk, walk, walk
70% of us do not get the exercise that we need. According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, exercise prevents illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. Other major risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure are better controlled with regular exercise. Exercise can improve your energy levels, mood, help you reduce stress and sleep better.
Your goal should be to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. If To save time, break it up into smaller increments. You can also take the stairs, park further away from buildings or walk instead of riding a shuttle. Daily exercise not only improves your heart health, but your overall quality of life. Studies have shown that even moderate-intensity activities such as walking, dancing or yard work can have long-term health benefits. Pick something you enjoy as you are more likely to stick with it. It also helps to have a partner to exercise with.
Build up your exercise routine gradually, instead of trying to change your entire lifestyle all at once. Record your efforts and reward yourself with something other than food when you reach a goal. As always, make sure to check with your physician to make sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise program.
Tip #4: Eat healthy
What’s more alarming is that 90% of Americans are not eating a heart-healthy diet. This leads to heart disease, obesity, stroke and diabetes. What is a Heart-Healthy diet? You should look for healthy meals with less than 350-450 calories. Pack healthy snacks such as almonds, fruits and veggies. Look for foods that are not processed, have less fat and eat them in the right portions. Here’s a trick: eat an apple or drink a glass of water before your meal to fill up.
Be sure to read the nutrition labels on food packaging and keep the following daily consumption guidelines in mind:
- Aim for less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving
- Limit your sugar consumption to no more than 25-37.5 grams per day
- Eat at least 25 mg of fiber per day
- Reduce your cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day
- Keep your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg daily
It is important to choose fresh foods and limit juices, soups, lunch meats, packaged rice and pasta meals that are cooked in less than 15 minutes. Diets are a quick fix; they are not going to keep the weight off permanently. It is important to realize healthy eating habits should be a life change. Skipping meals is not a healthy way to lose weight and it can actually cause you to over eat when you do finally eat.
Keep your heart healthy with these tips from the American Heart Association’s Simple 7. Learn more about our Heart & Vascular Center.
Category: Heart & Vascular