You’ve been told that you should lose weight, exercise more, and change your diet if you want to improve your heart (and general) health. While these three recommendations are quite correct, they can seem broad and daunting, leaving you to wonder where to begin.
In this month’s blog post, Dr. Farhad Aduli and the team of cardiovascular experts here at Louisiana Heart and Vascular want to present four simple tweaks you can make today to meet these goals.
These small steps can make a big difference in your cardiovascular health and help you avoid some very serious, and potentially life-threatening, health issues.
According to the American Heart Association, a heart-healthy exercise regimen should include 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. What we mean by aerobic exercise is any activity that raises your heart rate to a point where you’re huffing and puffing a little, but not gasping for air.
If you break down these 150 minutes, you’ll see that this goal isn’t all that hard to meet. For example, some of this time can include walking for an hour once a week you can use some of this time by walking for an hour once a week. To get your heart rate up, you can pick up your pace or add some steps or hills. And, if you do this with a friend, it may make the walk more enjoyable and help pass the time faster.
Next, you can get outside and do some gardening for an hour or turn your attention indoors and give your house a good scrub. Spending an hour a week on household chores is another great way to exercise and be productive.
Lastly, you can try little tricks, like parking your car further from the entrance of the store or taking the stairs instead of the escalator whenever you can. If you do this throughout the week, along with your walk and chores, you’ll more than meet the 150-minute goal.
This is just one example in which you can get the exercise you need for great heart health, and we encourage you to get creative and come up with a plan that best suits your lifestyle.
If you want to count something other than minutes, you can use your phone or invest in a wearable fitness device that will track your physical activity. Walking 7,000-10,000 steps is a great target to keep your heart healthy.
To start, count your steps on a normal day and see what your results are. Most people in the United States reach about 3,000-4,000 steps per day. Then, gradually increase that number until you’re in the range listed above.
Overhauling your diet and undoing long-standing eating habits can be difficult, so we suggest you start small. A great way to begin is to choose one healthier snack each day. For example, instead of a bag of chips, try a handful of nuts or some sliced-up carrots and celery. These crunchy foods are chock full of nutrients, and they’re satisfying snacks.
This one trade can set the stage for future swaps in your eating habits and, before you know it, you can be munching on more fruits and vegetables than processed cookies and chips, which are calorie-rich and nutrient-poor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that losing just 5-10% of your overall body weight can deliver myriad health benefits, including lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure numbers.
So, if you’re about 250 pounds, set yourself a goal of losing 12 pounds to start. The great news is that, if you follow some of the tweaks we outlined above, you’ll achieve this goal in no time.
Once you hit the 5% mark, you’ll feel more confident about getting to the 10% goal. And after that, you can target another small weight goal.
In order to track your improvements, we also suggest that you start out with a cardiology consultation at our practice, so we can have a good working baseline. During this visit, we can also help you tailor a plan that best suits your needs and goals.
To get started on taking charge of your heart health, book an appointment online or over the phone with Louisiana Heart and Vascular today. We’re located in Covington and Franklinton, Louisiana, and we also serve patients from Mandeville and Slidell.