Lifestyle changes don’t have to be difficult to be effective! In honor of American Heart Month, here are five little changes suggested by the American Heart Association that will make a big difference for your heart.
Eating more colorfully means eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables – Cheetos and M&Ms don’t count. This is a powerful way to support your heart and your overall health because it provides important nutrients and fills you up without lots of fats or sodium. A diet rich in fruits or vegetables lowers your risk for many health conditions including cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, stroke and high blood pressure.
Count how many servings of fruits or vegetables you average in a day, then try to increase that number, or try to get every color of the rainbow into your diet each week. Competing against yourself and defining specific goals is a fun and effective way to colorize your diet.
Laughing is a great way to reduce stress, which can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease. If you’re feeling stressed, find some funny memes on the internet or watch your favorite comedian do a standup routine. You can also play good-natured tricks on family members or coworkers as long as you remember to avoid sudden surprises – you definitely don’t want to induce a heart attack ;)
Make it a goal to have a good laugh every day.
Even if you don’t get to the gym every single day, pledging to move around in general can do a lot for your heart. For adults, The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week OR 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.
If you just walk at a moderate pace for half an hour five days a week, you can meet that minimum. Do a few sit-ups or jumping jacks during commercial breaks or between episodes. Do yardwork and housework yourself instead of hiring somebody else. You don’t have to be a gym rat to keep your heart healthy – you just have to move around a bit! Find more easy ways to be active here.
4. Subtract Some Salt
Salt is so prevalent in packaged and prepared foods that generally speaking, all of us consume way more sodium than we actually need. Excessive sodium consumption can increase your blood pressure and make your heart work harder, so reducing sodium intake is a generally good idea.
Choose fresh foods over prepared foods, do your own cooking when you can, choose spices and seasonings other than salt and consider switching off of any medicines that contain extra sodium. Regular adults without other medical concerns should aim to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
5. Remember that diet and exercise go together
When you’re trying to be healthy, it’s natural to try to cut calories and exercise more, but if you go too far in either direction you’ll end up exhausted.
Diet and exercise are two sides of the same coin. If you’re exercising more you’ll need more calories to fuel your workouts, and if you’re eating more you should engage in more exercise to burn off excess calories. Pay attention to the numbers – how many calories are you really eating, and how many are you really burning? – to make sure you’re giving your body the fuel it needs to support the activities you choose.
Sinclair Broadcasting is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we’re introducing Sinclair Cares. Every month we’ll bring you information about the “Cause of the Month,” including topical information, education, awareness and prevention.