Would you like to add years to your life? Did you know that most heart disease may be preventable with simple adjustments to your daily routine? February is Heart Health Month, when everyone can focus on living healthier, more vibrant lives!
As many are aware, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among adults in the United States. But simple changes can help reduce your risk, and you can start making these changes today. Here are a few tips and tricks that anyone can use to improve heart health:
- Move more! Simply getting up from a seated position and walking can improve your health. The addition of physical activity is one of the best ways to keep your body (and brain) healthy. Moderate aerobic activity and muscle strengthening exercises can not only improve heart health, they can also help with mood, sleep and managing stress. (Are you standing up and perhaps marching in place as you read this?)
- Eat better! Focus on colorful foods. Focus on fresh foods. Focus on eating less sugar. Yes, you’ve heard these suggestions many times. But simply replacing sugary snacks with things like fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. Challenge yourself for the remainder of the month to eliminate a source of sugar in your own diet (breakfast items, soda, sweet baked goods, etc.), and see if you can replace it with a snack of fruits or veggies! Also consider preparing meals over the weekend to eat throughout the week, thereby avoiding temptation to “just grab something quick,” which usually leads to bad choices and fast-food drive-thrus.
- Get more sleep! We know, this one can be difficult; one in three adults don’t get enough sleep. And with that comes a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. But being physically active (see our first bullet point!) can improve sleep and help reduce stress. Make sure you have reasonably stable morning and bedtime routines, waking up and going to sleep around the same time each day and night. Perhaps the most difficult change to make – put your phone down! Move it to the other side of the room to charge it. Read a book or listen to music before turning in, rather than making sure you’re all caught up on the latest social media posts.
So where do you start? It’s not easy to revamp everything, so pick one area. The best form of exercise is the one that gets YOU off the couch. Walk the dogs, sign up for a fitness class, even waking up in the morning and starting with yoga is a good beginning. Then, the next time you’re at the grocery store, spend more time in the produce section and make healthier selections for snacks. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so give yourself some grace as you navigate through the process. It won’t take long for you to see and feel improvements!
Ann Ruesy (Studio Owner), Ashley Swanegan (Studio Manager) and Jamie Gleeson (Head Coach) are with Orangetheory Fitness – Columbia at 3103 W. Broadway.