Keeping your heart healthy is so simple it can be put into catchy, two-word phrases: Eat right. Get exercise. Don’t smoke.
Putting those heart-healthy catch phrases into action, of course, isn’t so simple. Which matter most? How can you put them into daily practice?
Here are practical heart health hints you can use every day.
Get Exercise: Time to Play
Adults need at least 30 minutes of exercise five or more days a week for heart health. But improving cardiovascular and overall health isn’t only about sweating on a treadmill or climbing stairs, say the pros. Getting out to play is exercise too, and improving heart health is just as easily about kickball with your kids, walking the dog, or shooting hoops with colleagues during your lunch break.
Heart-Healthy Keys to Exercise
Get a total of at least 30 minutes of exercise daily — and you don’t have to do it all at once. Aim for a 10-minute morning walk perhaps, a short workout with hand weights at lunch, and some digging in the garden before dinner, and you’ve met your goals.
To get the full benefits of aerobic exercise “folks should get their heart rate up so they’re somewhat breathless, but can still carry on a conversation,” says Susan Moores, RD, MS, a registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokeswoman. She adds that all kinds of exercises are important, from strength training and aerobics, to flexibility and stretching exercises.
Routine Exams: Get Checked
“Nobody’s going to keep an eye on your medical health other than you,” says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, author of Food Synergy, and WebMD’s “Recipe Doctor.” “You are in charge.”
That’s an easy thing to forget, especially when talking about the ho-hum pragmatism of routine health exams. Yet getting regular blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checks, as well as physical exams are important steps in maintaining heart health.
“Anything you can find out about what’s going on inside your body the better,” says Magee. Especially true when you consider that heart-threatening conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol are “silent” — meaning there’s almost no way to know you have them unless you get tested.