It’s an obvious statement, but your heart health is paramount to your overall health and should rise above all else in terms of importance. While that statement may be true, it’s hardly a plan, which is where we can help
Facing something as large as your heart health is daunting, so Dr. Ariel Soffer and our team here at Soffer Health Institute decided to pull together three heart-healthy practices that you can institute this summer.
1. Move it out
One of the most important things you can do for your cardiovascular health is to get up and move. Your body is designed for movement and functions best when it’s on the go.
An apt metaphor for this is to think of your body as a well-oiled machine in which all the parts work together. Should that machine be shut down for any length of time, rust can set in, and certain parts can become stuck, which hampers the machine from working well, if at all.
Now apply that principle to your body. By introducing more exercise into your regimen, you can avoid problems like blockages in your blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
We’re not suggesting that you have to go from couch to gym overnight, as there are many small, but important, steps you can take, such as:
- Parking your car further from the entrance in the parking lot
- Taking the stairs and not the elevator
- Going for a swim to cool off
- Doing a few jumping jacks or stretches
Slowly, but surely, you can build up your endurance toward the American Heart Association’s recommendations for exercise, which includes at least 150 minutes per week of heart-pumping activities.
Better yet, if you can be physically active for 30-60 minutes a day, you can really reap the benefits in terms of heart health. We assure you that these goals aren’t terribly hard to meet if you get creative throughout your day.
2. You are what you eat
Thanks to modern eating habits, too many Americans have a calorie-rich but nutrient-poor diet. Your body relies on what you take in for optimal function, which very much includes your cardiovascular system.
To start, you should avoid loading your body with unnecessary fats and sugars (junk food), which can contribute to buildup in your blood vessels called atherosclerosis. Second, if you have high blood pressure, you may need to limit sodium, which is everywhere in processed foods.
Ultimately, a great practice is to shop along the sides of the grocery store and not in the middle. At most grocery stores, many of the middle aisles are packed with processed foods, many of which aren’t doing your heart any favors.
Instead, head to the produce section along the side to load up on fruits, nuts, and vegetables and then hit the fish counter for some valuable omega-3 fats. Chicken, pork, and lean beef are good sources of protein at the meat counter, but try to limit your processed meat intake.
If you swap out chips for carrots, cookies for apples, and bacon bits for nuts, you can give your cardiovascular system the fuel it needs for optimal function.
3. Take it easy
If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that stress levels in modern society are high. When you’re in a state of stress, your body contains high levels of cortisol, which can increase your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure, all of which put you at risk for heart disease.
We recommend you find ways to reduce your stress, which might include:
- Meditation and deep-breathing exercises
- Hikes in nature
- Turning off the news
- Unplugging from your phone
You know best where your own stress comes from, so we urge you to find ways to relax your body to lower the levels of cortisol.
If you’d like to explore more ideas for taking charge of your heart health this summer, contact one of our three offices in Aventura, Weston, Florida, to set up an appointment.