2013-01-23 / Health Care

February Is 28 Days Of Heart Health

February is Heart Month and it’s also a great time to begin a new heart healthy lifestyle. The American Heart Association (AHA) has put together 28 Days of Heart Healthy Ways to get you started. These simple daily tips can help jump-start a healthy lifestyle.

Being overweight and obese, especially among children, has emerged as a serious threat to our nation’s health. Approximately 145 million American adults are overweight and of these, 74 million are considered obese. Those numbers have risen rapidly among women, men and children of all racial and ethnic groups. And this trend is projected to continue.

Recent research suggests that obesity shortens the average lifespan by at least four to nine months, and if childhood obesity continues to increase, it could cut two to five years from the average lifespan.

Cardiovascular disease is largely preventable in men and women. One study found that if women adhere to five lifestyle choices involving diet, exercise, and nonsmoking, 83 percent of coronary events may be prevented. The following tips from the AHA can help individuals and families make small changes for a healthier life.

1-There’s a two-for-one bargain you can’t live without—exercise. You’ll gain about two hours of life expectancy for each hour of regular exercise you do. That’s quite a bargain.

2-Just 30 minutes a day can make a real difference in your health. Something as simple as walking can go a long way toward a healthy life.

3-You’re busy. You want to exercise, but when? Getting in daily exercise isn’t as hard as you think. Take time at lunch or right before or after dinner to walk, cycle, jog, skate, bike—every little bit helps.

4-Adding physical activity every day can be as easy as child’s play. Play with your children or pets before or after work. Jump rope, walk, or do Zumba with your friends.

5-Sitting at a desk all day, and in front of the TV all night isn’t good for your health. Find small ways to add activity throughout your day: take the stairs, park further away, take walks during lunch and after dinner.

6-Ever wonder why kids are so energetic? One word: recess. Adults need recess too.

7-Schedule in regular walk, cycle or play time before or after work or meals. Every little bit helps.

8-Labor-saving devices at home save us time, but cost us in physical activity. Turn them off and use elbow grease.

9-Americans watch an average of four hours of TV per day. Why not spend that time watching and exercising? Do floor work, add hand weights or use a stationary bicycle.

10-Smoking is not only bad for your lungs, it’s also bad for your heart. Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases HDL—the good cholesterol, decreases exercise tolerance and causes fatty buildup in arteries, increasing the tendency for blood to clot. Quitting for good is good for your heart.

11-Did you know that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease and stroke starts to drop? After you’ve quit smoking, you feel alive and full of energy and you breathe much easier.

12-There are some risk factors for heart disease that you can’t control, and family history is one of them. Tell your doctor and get checked out.

13-The American Heart Association recommends filling up on the good stuff. If you’re watching your weight, fruits and veggies will give you vitamins, minerals and fiber with few calories. They are filling, low in fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol.

14-Eating fish is a great way to add lean protein to your diet. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like mackerel, lake trout, tuna and salmon are all great for your heart.

15-Combine socializing and healthy activity. Get your friends together for a weekly Saturday morning walk or other physical activity.

16-Making healthy choices on the run is easy when you follow a few simple guidelines: avoid fried dishes; add a salad, not fries as your side order; drink skim milk, not soda. These small choices can add up to big calorie savings.

17-When eating out, take portion control into your own “hands”. Three ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of playing cards; a half-cup of fruit or pasta is about the size of a small fist; one cup is a small fist holding a tennis ball; an ounce of cheese is about the size of your thumb; a teaspoon of dressing is about the size of your thumb tip. If the restaurant gives you more than that, take your leftovers home.

18-To lose a pound of fat, you have to burn 3,500 calories, or eat 3,500 fewer calories. Exercises with the most calorieburning potential: boxing, bicycling, running— even belly-dancing burns more than most exercises.

19-Avoid rich take-out beverages, many contain more than 300 calories per serving—that’s about as much as a small order of fries.

20-Be ready for fitness at a moment’s notice, keep a pair of comfortable walking or running shoes in your car and office.

21-Limit the amount you eat when dining out: order a low-fat appetizer as your meal; split an entrée with another person; cut your entrée in half as soon as you get it and ask that the other half be wrapped to go; never super-size.

22-Slow down, you eat too fast. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you’ve eaten enough. By slowing down your eating, you’ll feel full with less food.

23-Dancing burns an average of 350 calories per hour. Do that five times a week and you’ll lose a half pound of fat a week.

24-Exercising just three to five times per week can enhance the health, academic performance, attitudes and classroom behavior of children at school. Exercise with your kids.

25-More than nine million American children are overweight and 23 percent get no exercise at all. Winter activities include ice skating, bowling, going to a fitness club or to a museum.

26-American children ages two to 17 spend an average of 25 hours per week watching TV—that’s more than any other activity except sleeping. Try a daily 15 minute family walk after dinner.

27-Studies show that for every onehour increase in daily TV viewing by children, there were higher intakes of sugarsweetened beverages and total calories. Encourage your kids to get 60 minutes of play per day.

28-Taking care of yourself allows you to help care for your loved ones. For tips on relaxation, rejuvenating and replenishment, visit heart.org/caregivers.

For more heart-healthy living tips, visit www.heart.org or call 877-AHA-USA1.

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