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Heart Healthy Tips

Feb 12
Category | Helpful Tips

Heart Healthy Tips 

February is American Heart Month, so it’s time to kick those unhealthy quarantine habits to the curb and focus on keeping your heart strong and happy. Because heart disease and high blood pressure affect so many Americans, we’ve outlined some helpful heart healthy tips for you to consider adding to your daily routine.  

Simple Ways to Exercise at Home 

This past year going to the gym has become somewhat of a safety hazard because of COVID-19. So since this month is American Heart month, we wanted to do our part by sharing some ideas about staying active and fit, even while spending more time than ever at home. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (30 minutes for 5 days) of moderate to vigorous exercise a week in order to improve cardiovascular health. A great way to utilize your stay-at-home time is taking part in exercises you can do with the everyday objects in your home. 

Here are some ways to get you moving without leaving home: 

  • Outdoor tasks like shoveling snow, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, weeding and mulching 

  • Exercise by doing housework like sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, or even getting a head start on your spring cleaning 

  • Use common household items as substitutes for gym equipment: use canned goods as hand weights, do wall-sits to work your quads and glutes, walk or run up the stairs to get some cardio, and do push-ups on your countertop 

Going for a walk around your neighborhood at a brisk pace for 150 minutes per week can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. According the American Heart Association, for every hour of brisk walking, life expectancy for some people may increase by two hours.  

Heart Conscious Eating 

Exercise isn’t the only way to keep your heart healthy, it is important to monitor your day-to-day eating habits as well. Keeping track of the nutrition facts in every little thing you eat can definitely seem daunting and tedious, so below are some basic rules to implement in your daily diet. 

  • Portion Control: Try using smaller plates/bowls when you eat to better control your portion sizes. 

  • Prioritize Fruits and Vegetables: Eat 5 servings per day of fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables, or even low-sodium canned veggies. Avoid fried or breaded vegetables in creamy sauces and canned fruit packaged in thick syrup. You can also try leaving out a bowl of grapes on your counter to remind you to snack on something healthy throughout the day.  

  • Choose Whole Grain Options: Substitute your white bread, rice, pasta and flour with less processed, healthier whole grain alternatives. 

  • Do your best to limit grains like muffins, donuts, cakes, and high-fat snack crackers. Try snacking on oatmeal with cinnamon or fruit mixed in. 

  • Choose Low-fat Options: Saturated fat shouldn’t account for more than 5-6% of your daily calories. Substituting butter for margarine is an easy and healthy switch. Avoid foods high in trans fats, like creamy sauces and consider eating more nuts and avocados.  

  • The best low-fat proteins include eggs, fish and soy products. 

  • Reduce your Sodium Intake: Sodium is a major contributor to high blood pressure, so try not to eat more than 2,300 mg (teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day. 

Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time can be a great strategy to keep yourself eating healthy on a regular basis. Emphasize fruits, veggies and whole grains in your plans, while limiting foods high in sodium and fats. The more you can get in the habit of staying heart conscious with your eating, the sooner it will become natural for you in your daily life. 

De-Stressing Strategies 

Whether you’re stuck in traffic or have a hundred things on your to-do list, managing your stress levels is crucial to your overall health. Although it is not yet proven that stress directly causes heart disease and high blood pressure, the indirect results of stress definitely can. People with high levels of stress often resort to eating junk food, drinking too much alcohol, and don’t exercise, which is a combination that is highly detrimental to your heart health. Here are some ideas on how to alleviate your stress: 

  • Keep a Positive Attitude: Staying in touch with the people and things you love can keep you happy. Research shows that people who laugh often and have a positive attitude report lower stress levels and are less likely to die from an existing heart disease.  

  • Calming Relaxation: Meditation and yoga are great ways to de-stress by calming your mind and body. Take a break from thinking and focus on your breathing in a quiet room to relax after a long day or even during a lunch break. Keeping up with this habit can help to ultimately reduce high blood pressure.  

  • Exercise Regularly: Exercising can keep your mind off all the stress in your life for a bit while also lowering blood pressure levels and keeping your heart strong.  

Staying conscious of your exercise patterns, daily diet, and stress levels is the first major step to a heart healthy lifestyle. Implementing and maintaining healthy habits into your day-to-day life can be a challenge, but one well worth it. We hope these tips help your heart beat strong and happy!