Adopting healthy habits can be your best defense against heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It may seem like this would take a lot of time and effort but there are many simple steps you can take to improve your heart health.
With a little dedication and our CMC Primary Care heart-healthy tips below, you can be on your way to a heart-healthy life!
Simple steps you can take toward a healthier heart
Exercise your heart
Heart health isn’t just about losing weight. It’s about moving and getting your blood pumping. Your heart is a muscle, and just like the other muscles in your body, it needs to be worked out consistently to stay strong. Getting the 30 minutes of exercise your body needs doesn’t have to be done through a strenuous workout session. A walk in the park or mall, a little work in the garden, playtime with your kids in the yard, or an impromptu dance party in your living room can all do the trick. All you have to do is have fun working up a little sweat 5 times a week to give your heart the exercise it needs.
Know your numbers
Prevention is important when it comes to your heart and the best gauge of your heart’s health is your numbers. Your weight and waist circumference, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels are key indicators of your health and can help predict your future risk of heart disease.
Unsure of what your numbers are? CMC Primary Care can help! Having an annual physical will give you the insight you need to start working on any problem areas you may have or to maintain the great work you’re doing. Best of all, your primary care provider will be your guide as you work on improving your numbers and setting goals for your health.
Recognize good fats vs. bad fats
We need fats in our diets but not all fats are created equal. Saturated fats like those found in butter, dairy, and fatty meats, along with trans fats which are industry-produced fats that are used in packaged snack foods, baked goods, and fried fast foods are linked to high cholesterol and clogged arteries which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Unsaturated fats are the “good fats” that feed your body and improve your overall health. Found in nuts, avocadoes, olive oil, and fatty fishes, unsaturated fats can help make you feel more satisfied after a meal, reduce hunger, and are good for your cholesterol.
You can get a handle on your intake of bad fats by making a few adjustments. When it comes to dairy, switch from whole milk to 2% or skim milk and choose low-fat products over regular ones. Pick leaner, less fatty meats like skinless chicken, turkey, and fish to cook. Avoid frying your meats and opt for grilling, steaming, or baking them instead. Use seasonings that are lower in sodium to add the flavor you might miss from frying. Last but not least, look for trans fats listed on your food labels, partially hydrogenated oils, and instead look for items that say “0% trans fat” on their packaging.
Prioritize your sleep
Getting 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is essential. Skimping on sleep can lead to heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and all of the risks associated with these. Just as your body needs rest, so does your heart. If you aren’t getting good sleep or if you suspect you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, discuss this with your primary care provider. There are many treatments available and things you can do to sleep better and feel better.
You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again, just stop already. Smoking does far more than damaging the lungs. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your heart and blood vessels. To avoid heart disease, you must avoid smoke in every shape and form.
Quitting is hard but you are not alone! Your primary care physician can guide you on your path to a smoke-free life. CMC is proud to offer smoking cessation classes that offer you the support and guidance you need to make your next drag your last. Did you know that if you smoke an average of one pack per day that you can save approximately $3,000 per year if you quit? What are you waiting for, trade your butts for benjamins!
You’re on your way!
There are many steps you can take to be heart healthy but it can be a little overwhelming to consider them all at once. Start with these five tips and work on incorporating them into your daily life. When they become habits, then make a new healthy goal. Along your way, don’t forget that the providers at CMC Primary Care are always available to guide you and support you in your journey to a healthier heart.