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29 Small and Attainable Steps to Heart Health – Penn Medicine

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29 Small and Attainable Steps to Heart Health – Penn Medicine

We get it, starting and maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle isn’t always easy. Life inevitably gets in the way. Priorities change, family commitments increase, work becomes stressful; all of these may have caused you to focus on other things.

We’re here to tell you that it is time to make your heart health a priority. You can’t take care of others if you aren’t healthy. Heart disease remains the #1 cause of death in America and is often called the “silent killer”. The good news is: 80 percent of heart disease is preventable! That means you have the power to lower your risk. Begin by taking small steps that will turn into lifelong heart healthy habits.

29 Steps to a Healthier Heart

Here are 29 small steps that you can take to get on the road to a healthier heart.

  1. Create a weekly meal plan so you’re set with a week of healthy eating decisions.
  2. Keep heart healthy staples, like fresh fruits and veggies, at the top of your shopping list.
  3. Cook a few large healthy meals on Sunday so you can eat leftovers all week.
  4. All activities count as exercise so find one you enjoy and do it.
  5. If you are finding it difficult to find the time to exercise, break up your exercise time into three, 10 minute sessions throughout the day.
  6. Grab a friend. Exercising is always easier with a buddy and this way you are held accountable for showing up.
  7. Take the stairs. Just taking a total of four flights of stairs a day adds up to 57 miles over the course of a year!
  8. Park just a little bit further from the store entrance during shopping trips.
  9. If smoking is a habit you need to kick, find an online group or a smoking cessation program where you can find support.
  10. Schedule that check-up. A 30 minute appointment can make a big difference.
  11. Use holidays where you will see family as a way to ask questions about heart disease history.
  12. Begin adding 10 minutes of “quiet time” to each day. Use it to reflect or think about something positive.
  13. Try yoga! This can be a great way to destress.
  14. Visit the dentist twice a year. Gum disease has been found to increase heart disease risk, so take care of your teeth!
  15. Add flossing to your evening teeth brushing routine.
  16. Walking meetings. Take it outside – try scheduling your next meeting to be on the move!
  17. Bring your lunch. Brown bagging your lunch makes it easier to stick to healthy portions and food!
  18. Hit the hay early. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but aim for 7 to 8 hours a night.
  19. Add fish to your diet twice a week. Getting those Omega-3’s through your food can boost heart health.
  20. Go meatless! Try adding one day a week where you make a meatless dinner.
  21. Try closing your eyes and taking 10 slow, deep breaths in the middle of every day.
  22. Swap out that sugar. The next time you’re baking, try alternatives instead of the refined sugar you are used to.
  23. Laugh out loud. Seriously! Grab your funniest friend and head out for some laughs.
  24. Hide the salt shaker – or better yet, get rid of it all together.
  25. Go nuts! Try keeping a serving of nuts around for that afternoon slump.
  26. Make time for breakfast. It’s a great way to set the tone for a day of healthy choices. And you’ll have the energy you need, too!
  27. Get your blood pressure checked. It takes under two minutes, and it is so important to know this number.
  28. Limit your time spent sitting in front of a screen. When it comes to the heart, sitting is the new smoking.
  29. Reach out to a loved one. Write a letter, let them know how thankful you are for them. Gratitude goes a long way – for both of your hearts.

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