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Improve Your Heart Health With A New Routine

Improve your heart health with a new routine

Dr. Eduardo Balcells

By Dr. Eduardo Balcells

Do you believe eating healthy or getting fit is impossible for you? Forget the all-or-nothing, I’ll-start-on-Monday approach. Let’s start with small changes that will have a positive impact on your heart health. These small changes will turn into a new routine and a healthier heart.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a gym membership, food or supplements. All you need is a commitment to making a few small changes each month. To get started, try cultivating one new routine this month. Next month, add another. You will begin to feel so much better that you will be motivated to continue your new routine long-term.

1. Start walking

If you’re new to exercise, start with a 10-minute walk three or four days a week. The next week, increase the amount of time you walk to 15 or 20 minutes. The next week, bump it up a bit more.

Try walking five minutes away from your house or your starting point at a local park and then walking back. That’s 10 minutes. If you don’t have anywhere to walk, try your local mall.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week. Cardiovascular exercise is exercise that gets your blood pumping, such as walking, bicycling, Zumba, aerobics, swimming or jogging. As you get stronger, aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

2. Increase your vegetables

Make a commitment to eat one serving of a vegetable daily. Vegetables are rich in fiber to keep you full as well as vitamins and nutrients to nourish your body. They’re also low in calories and fat-free.

Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli are delicious roasted. Spread chopped vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with your favorite spices. Roast at 400 degrees until the vegetables are tender and the edges are golden brown.

3. Drop the sweetened drinks

If you need to lose weight, a simple way to cut calories is to cut out sweetened beverages like soda, juice and sweetened coffee drinks.

Watch out for store-bought smoothies and diet sodas, too. Smoothies can contain a lot of calories and excess sugar. If you like smoothies, make them at home and consider it a meal rather than something to sip on when you are thirsty.

Diet sodas may be calorie-free, but research has shown they can trick your body into being hungrier later on, so skip them.

Instead, drink plain water (add a few slices of fresh fruit if you want some flavor), sparkling water, black coffee or unsweetened tea to stay hydrated.

4. Manage your stress

Taking care of your mind and soul is important for your body’s health. Try:

  • Deep breathing
  • Gentle stretches or yoga
  • Journaling
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Saying “no” to activities you don’t enjoy or have time for
  • Talking with a supportive friend
  • Taking a break from electronics (aim for at least an hour of screen-free time nightly)

5. Get enough sleep

When you get enough rest, your body can function at peak performance. Lack of sleep can affect your hormones and make you hungrier, so if you are trying to lose weight, getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night is crucial.

6. Know your numbers

An important key to heart health is to “know your numbers.” This includes your:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Cholesterol

I encourage you to call this month to schedule a physical with a primary care physician if you don’t already have an appointment.

7. Quit smoking

If you’re a smoker, it’s time to quit. I know it’s not easy, so talk to your doctor or nurse about ways you can stop. They can help.

We want you to pay extra attention to your heart health this month and all year long. Heart disease is the number one killer in America. The good news is many of the biggest risk factors for heart disease can be reduced by lifestyle changes and simply changing your routine.

Stay tuned for more articles on how you can improve your heart health. To learn more about heart health or to find a physician near you, visit pardeehospital.org.

— Dr. Eduardo Balcells is an interventional cardiologist at Pardee Cardiovascular Services.

Story Credit: http://www.blueridgenow.com/news/20170301/improve-your-heart-health-with-new-routine