Five Tips to Improve Heart Health

An associate professor in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences suggests individuals reduce stress and exercise daily.

Heart
Improving your heart health starts with understanding your risk for heart disease. (Photo courtesy of the American Heart Association)
February 12, 2018

February is American Heart Month, which makes now a great time to check in on your own heart health.

About 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day— about one death every 38 seconds, according to the American Heart Association. William Borden, associate professor of medicine and chief quality and population health officer, is an expert on cardiovascular disease prevention. He shared some small steps individuals can take every day to improve their cardiovascular health.

Know your numbers
Improving your heart health starts with understanding your risk for heart disease. A preventive check-up will tell you about your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and your body mass index, which is an indicator of a healthy weight. It’s also important to talk to your relatives to know if there is heart disease in your family.

Take a walk
A simple 30 minute brisk walk every day gives you many health benefits. An easy rule of thumb on what makes a walk brisk is that you should be passing some people as you walk. In general, you should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise, which includes brisk walking, or 75 minutes per week of intensive exercise.

Eat a rainbow
Eat a variety of vegetables and a lot of them. Vegetables with different colors give you different nutrients and fill you up so you’re eating less sweets and fatty foods. Also, the variety of vegetables are delicious!

Don’t play with fire
Never start smoking and, if you do smoke, get help to quit. This includes avoiding e-cigarettes.

Smell the flowers
Take some time for yourself and find ways to reduce stress in your life. Stress reduction has many heart health benefits. Some ways to lower stress levels include exercise, yoga and meditation, including some apps that guide you through meditation programs. In addition, getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night will help both your heart and your brain.

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