HOUSE CALL: 5 small heart-healthy changes to make today
Improving your heart’s health may seem like a big project, but even small changes in your daily habits can make a difference. Here are five simple steps you can get started on right away.
Bring a piece of fruit to work. Eating more fruits and veggies is a heart-healthy choice. Plus many of these healthy snacks are portable (think apples, oranges, celery and bananas). When hunger hits, having a piece of fruit at your work area will help you avoid the less-healthy options from the vending machine.
Take a 10-minute break walking. If you sit behind a computer most of the day, get up for a quick stroll several times a day. Sitting less and moving more is good for your ticker and your body overall. Keep in mind it’s easier to fit in the recommended 30 minutes of movement every day if you divide the time into shorter bouts. Keep track of your steps with a pedometer or on your smart phones, and invite your friends at work for a daily or a work-week step challenge.
Give your screens an earlier bedtime. Too little sleep can hurt your heart and increase your risk for other diseases, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, which can also affect heart health. Watching TV or using your smartphone or computer close to bedtime can keep you awake. Try giving yourself a deadline for turning off your screens an hour before bedtime every night. Relaxing to music or a book may help you doze off, and wake up with a refreshed feeling.
Have a hearty laugh. Laughter eases stress, which is a good thing because too much stress may boost your risk for high blood pressure, the leading factor of stroke and heart disease. For a regular dose of mirth, set aside time to watch some laugh-out-loud videos, or plan for activities that brings you joy.
Compare food labels for sodium content. Too much sodium can boost blood pressure, which is hard on your heart. Different brands of foods can have different sodium amounts. It only takes a moment to read food labels and to choose the brand with the least amount of sodium. You might be surprised to learn that some foods that don’t have really high levels of sodium, like bread, are among the top sources of the mineral in the American diet—simply because we may eat several servings of them a day.
February is heart month and everyone is part of the solution to heart health. Encourage your loved ones to make these small changes with you. Visit with your healthcare provider about additional changes you can make to improve your overall health. If you are concerned about your risk for heart disease, the experts at the Shannon Regional Heart Center are more than happy to visit with you.
For more information, free heart health assessments, and healthy tips and recipes, visit the online health library at shannonhealth.com or call 325-481-2281.
Dr. Keerthana Karumbaiah is a cardiologist at Shannon Clinic Cardiology.
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