Living a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle 

Here’s why “breaking the fast” is important in replenishing your body.

Much like there is no 1-size-fits-all diet, there is no 1-size-fits-all way to create a lifestyle. We all lead unique lives that require a different subset of skills and traits. So in an effort to help you create a heart healthy lifestyle here are a few well-researched topics that we know can deliver the goods.  As always, check with your medical provider to see what lifestyle changes will be best for you.  

Nutrition – Flex Your Stomach Muscle 

Nutrition can be challenging with all the information you have at your fingertips with different diets, and disease states. With the food system being as vast as it is, there are plenty of options to choose from and you are the driver for your health. While nutrition is not a one size fits all plan there are some general guidelines that can help you adjust to find a new pattern that works best for you: 

  • Eat a variety of foods. 
  • Focus on including lots of plants into the diet.  
  • Enjoy all foods in moderation. 
  • Limit saturated fat, sodium, and alcohol.  
  • Stay hydrated with water – drink half of your body weight in ounces. 
  • Keep added sugars to a minimum, less than 10% of your total calories. 

Exercise – Most Days Of The Week 

Create an exercise routine that works for your lifestyle and find something you enjoy doing. If Zumba is your thing, great! If you’re at 1-2 classes per week start becoming more consistent with 2 and grow from there towards the recommendations below. If you’re noticing you want to see more benefits, try stepping outside of your normal routine and try something new to flex the muscles you may not be tapping into. Here are a few guidelines [1] to start you off on the right foot: 

  • 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardio per week 
  • Gain more benefits with over 300 minutes 
  • 2 days a week of weight training 
  • Meditation/stretching 
  • Physical activity helps support mental health 
  • Spend less time sitting

Sleep – 7-9 hours per night  

Science shows that getting the right amount of sleep is essential [2]. Knowing your individual sleep factors for what is optimal is key. Some things to take into consideration are: your age, the labor of your job, the amount and intensity of exercise, pre-existing health conditions, and daily living energy expenditure. Getting the ideal amount of quality sleep per night could be enhanced by: 

  • Turning off screens 1 hour prior to bed. 
  • Have a satisfying meal 2 hours prior to bed. 
  • Create a night routine to start winding down. 
  • Stick to the same sleep schedule on weekdays and weekends. 
  • Know how much sleep you function well, usually 7-8 hours.  
  • Set up a calm sleep environment. 
  • Monitor your alcohol and caffeine intake before bed 

Stress – how well do you handle it 

Many of us come face to face with life’s challenges daily. They may have a different weight to them and this is where learning to cope and getting the right support can help. With the ever-changing world as it is, it has widened our lens to see the challenges we and many others face on a daily basis. Here are a few good questions to ask yourself to start tapping into more self-awareness: 

  • How do you step back from a stressful situation and deal with it? 
  • What outlets do you have to communicate stress in your life? 
  • How are you connecting with family, friends and the world? 
  • Are you participating in activities you enjoy? 
  • How are you taking care of yourself? 
  • Do you recognize when you need more support? 

This is by no means a full comprehensive list, but rather a great starting point. When we examine the research for how to lead a healthy lifestyle these points come through time and time again. What is the one thing you want to step towards creating a more heart healthy lifestyle?