Heart Health
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is one of the most powerful weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. And it is all within your power to control! By making smart choices as far as what you eat, how much you exercise, and the type of lifestyle you lead, you can help keep your heart healthy and enjoy the benefits of having a strong and active body. By incorporating these simple steps into your life, you can reduce your risk for both heart attack and stroke.
  1. Know your numbers
    Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels with a goal of keeping your BP below 130/85, your total cholesterol below 200 and your body mass index between 18.5 and 25.

     
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  2. Keep active
    Keeping your body moving lowers the risk of heart disease. Regular activity can help to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy weight. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days is recommended. Take a walk or find an exercise program that works best for you.

  3. Select nutritious foods
    Add a serving of fish each week and a fruit or vegetable to each meal, ideally eating five servings of fruits and/or vegetables each day. Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Select foods that are steamed, broiled, baked grilled or roasted instead of fried.

  4. Maintain your ideal body weight
    People who are overweight are much more likely to develop heart-related problems, even if they have no other risk factors. Regular exercise and healthy eating habits can help reduce your weight. Eat three meals daily, plus one or two planned snacks. Drink at least 6-8 cups of water each day. Try to avoid sweetened teas, coffees, and sodas. Include activities which you enjoy at least 4 or 5 times per week- walking, bowling, swimming or gardening, for example. Pay attention to serving sizes, particularly in restaurants. Share an order or perhaps choose an appetizer as a main course. Ask for a doggy bag!

  5. Lead a tobacco-free lifestyle
    Cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable deaths in this country. Quitting smoking now will increase your life expectancy! Your body will begin the healing process quickly. With 20 minutes, blood pressure will drop to its normal rate; within 72 hours breathing will become much easier; within one year the risk of heart disease is decreased by 50%! Smoking also boosts the risk of stroke. Eliminate your exposure to second-hand smoke.

  6. Manage stress
    Stress is a part of everyone's life, yet there are ways to reduce it. Regular physical activity can help counteract headaches, sleeplessness and depression brought on by chronic, unmanaged stress. Breathe! Inhale to the count of five and exhale to the count of five. You can do this anywhere! Balance your work and your personal life. Learn to slow down. Shift from being self-centered to being others-centered. Keep a sense of humor! Learn what helps you relax- a warm bath, listening to calming music, reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle. Know yourself.

By following these simple guidelines, you can enjoy the rewards of a healthy heart!