Tips to Improve Your Cardiovascular Health During National Heart Month

There may be no better time to change your ways and focus on improving your heart health than National Heart Month. Here are some simple tips that may help get you on a path to better cardiovascular and overall health.

An irreplaceable component in any healthful lifestyle regimen is exercise.

  • The American Heart Association advocates at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or any combination of the two). An average of 30 minutes a day, five times a week is an easy target to remember. (Personally I advocate 60 minutes of daily exercise). If you are unable to allocate a solid thirty minutes of your time to exercise you can divide your time into two or three shorter segments of 10 -15 minutes per day.
  • Walking is the simplest aerobic exercise you can undertake to effectively improve your heart health. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social, relaxing, and even meditative.
  • Racquet sports, basketball, swimming, golf, gardening – or any aerobic pastime that gets you up off the couch – are great ways to improve your cardiovascular health and potentially trim inches off that waistline.
  • If you’ve been sedentary for years, a full 30 minutes of exercise may be too challenging for you. Start with sessions of shorter duration – something is better than nothing – and gradually build up to a full 30 to 60 minutes of activity. Also, if you have been truly sedentary, see your doctor before embarking upon a new exercise regimen.

Adjust your diet
Excess weight can be a killer. Address any overweight and obesity issues you may have. If you currently eat a lot of fast food, sugary sweets or high saturated fat foods you should begin a transition to a more healthful diet. This is a lifestyle change and does not have to occur all at once!

  • Eat a diet that features daily servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables and at least one serving of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout) per week.
  • Limit foods and drinks high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. Avoid unhealthful snacks. Stay away from processed foods to the best of your ability. Avoid simple carbohydrates. Sugar is your enemy.
  • Consider a high quality fish oil pill that has been concentrated and purified to give you 1,000 mg of combined DHA and EPA in a single soft gel.
  • Take a good daily multiple.

Be your own healthcare advocate
In addition to undertaking a regular exercise regimen and eating a healthful diet here are some additional recommendations for leading a more healthful life.

  • Get a check-up. How often you have a check-up can be determined by your age, sex, and overall health.  Have your blood pressure checked, and get screened for hypertension.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether or not taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke is right for you.
  •  Get immunized: Annual flu shots are recommended for adults 50 and older, as well as immunization of adults 65 and older against bacteria that causes pneumonia and related diseases. Children should get immunized for measles, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, etc.
  • Cholesterol screening is imperative. Request an assessment of not only your LDL but your LDL particle number as well.
  • Never smoke; quit smoking if you’ve already started; and avoid second hand smoke.
  • Adults 50 and older should have a routine colorectal-cancer screening. (Genetic issues may dictate earlier screening).
  • Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women and women over 21 years of age.
  • Routine breast-cancer screening for women 50 and older and discussion with women ages 40 to 49 to set an age to begin screening. (Genetic issues may dictate earlier screening).
  • Calcium-supplements can be especially beneficial for adolescent girls and women.
  • Get an eye exam, particularly diabetics and adults 65 and older.
  • Manage your stress. Meditation, deep breathing, and simple exercise will help you do so.
  • Get routine dermatologic exams.
  • Get enough sleep. If you have a sleep disorder, please discuss this with your physician.
  • Always remember that you and your doctor are partners in the quest to keep you healthy and active for years to come. Find a doctor who is proactive and with whom you are completely comfortable. He or she should be instrumental in helping guide you throughout your life.

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