Take Health Advice to Heart
by Dr. Hojat Askari, Founder and Medical Director, Thumb Butte Medical Center
February is American Heart Month and it brings a flood of articles, TV news segments and patient education classes about maintaining your cardiovascular health.
But, of course, we need to protect our hearts throughout the year, and most people do at least have it somewhere in the back of their minds while giving in to unhealthy temptations they know they shouldn’t.
But if that is your tendency, you should work on moving your heart health closer to front and center, alongside the people and passions you want to be around a good time longer to enjoy.
This doesn’t mean you should ruminate on your cholesterol levels ticking a little higher and how many other things might go wrong — it’s time to take action by adopting some healthy habits as your own. Here are a few lifestyle tweaks to get yourself started.
FIND THE EXERCISE YOU LOVE
This may take some exploration and soul- searching for those of us who aren’t athletically inclined, whether that means you’re mostly sedentary or you do a light workout at the gym every other day, hating every minute of it.
It’s worth taking regular classes at the gym or watching workouts online to learn what captures your interest, as long as you don’t risk injury by attempting, for instance, an advanced HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) routine you’re not physically ready for.
Look for one or some combination of workouts you can see yourself doing at least five days a week for at least a few weeks — you’ll probably want to switch it up eventually, anyway.
STAY FULL WITH FIBER
Most Americans don’t eat enough fiber, which benefits our heart health through its roles in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and blood sugar levels, along with adding bulk to our diets that makes us feel fuller and eat less overall.
You can reverse this by gradually eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts while staying conscious about the higher calorie content of some of these foods. FIND
HEALTHY COPING MECHANISMS
Stressful situations surface in everyone’s life; often they’re recurring or chronic. Many of the most available resources we turn to when dealing with them are also the most unhealthy options — food, alcohol and drugs, tobacco.
Prioritize finding healthier stress relievers like exercise, meditation or picking up a soothing hobby.