By: Nadia Nasah, Bridgewater State University
Did you know that February is American Heart Month? In honor of this awareness, here are some tips that can improve your heart health.
- Don’t skip your annual check-ups Your heart is very important and therefore it is very important that you get yearly check-ups where you get your blood pressure, glucose levels, and cholesterol levels checked. Ask your doctor about any questions or concerns you have. They will be more than happy to guide you!
- Exercise! Walking at least 20 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. You can even walk or jog in place for at least 15 minutes in place while watching your favorite TV show!
- Increase water intake Drinking water is important! Take a reusable water bottle everywhere you go. This way you will always be hydrated!
- Eat Healthy! Don’t leave unhealthy snacks and foods in plain sight, hide them! Leave healthy snacks such as fruits and veggies in the fridge where they are accessible. Prepare your lunch and snack the night before. Before you know it, eating healthy becomes a habit. In addition, when grocery shopping, look for the heart logo from the American Heart Association. It will help you identify heart-healthy foods!
- Cholesterol Control Stay away from foods that contain high saturated and trans-fat as they lead to high cholesterol levels! Try adding chicken and turkey (skinless, baked, or roasted), fruits and veggies, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and whole grains to your diet to help keep cholesterol levels low.
- Less salt, please If you have high blood pressure, you may want to watch your salt intake. On the food labels, salt is labelled as sodium alginate, sodium sulphite, sodium caseinate, disodium phosphate, sodium benzoate, sodium hydroxide, monosodium glutamate (MSG), or sodium citrate.
- Quit Smoking! Smoking is harmful to the heart. It is not an easy habit to quit but with this four-step way it is possible:
- Day 1: Cut the number of cigarettes you smoke by half.
- Day 3: Cut the number of cigarettes you smoke by half again.
- Day 5: Cut your smoking in half once again!
- Quit Day: Quit!
- Keep a healthy weight Did you know that excessive weight can actually increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes? You can achieve that healthy weight by exercising 30 minutes every day or most days and by consuming 200-300 fewer calories than you normally would each day.
- Positivity is Key Going off track happens but when you do it is important to get right back. You can do it!
- Reward Yourself! In this day and age getting in shape can be a challenge. So, don’t forget to reward yourself with something fun every once in a while, you deserve it!