Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Boost Your Energy Level with Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health. It’s also a proven way to increase your energy and boost your mood! The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week (for example, half an hour, five days a week), including two to three strength training sessions per week.
  • Aerobic activity: The most convenient and affordable form of aerobic activity is walking. Studies have shown that brisk walking for at least half an hour, five times a week, has nearly the same health benefits as more vigorous exercise. How fast is “brisk”? Health experts say that a brisk walk is about 100 steps per minute, or about 3-4 miles per hour. 
  • Strength training: Weight lifting doesn’t have to involve heavy barbells. Lifting light weights can provide adequate resistance, but you can also use the strength training machines at the gym. Allow at least 48 hours between these muscle-building workouts to give your body time to recover. 
Whether you are doing aerobic exercise or strength training, start each exercise session with a 5-10 minute warm-up, including stretching. Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong and healthy.

Source: Harvard Health

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Start a Food Diary to Eat Better

A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you can use to fight against heart disease. What you eat, how much and how often can impact many controllable risk factors, like cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight. Keeping a food diary to track the quality and quantity of your food intake is a great way to pinpoint problem-eating patterns and make the changes you need to!
  • Don’t wait to write. To get the most accurate impression of what and how much you consume, jot down what you’ve eaten as soon as you eat it. If you wait until the end of the day, it’s likely you’ll forget some of the things you ate earlier. Strive to write down every mouthful of food—even tastes, snacks, and sips—within 15 minutes of consuming it.
  • Do get the details. Record relevant important details, including the time of your meal or snack, where you ate, whether you were doing something else while you were eating, and the type of food you consumed—whether, for example, it was a meal from scratch or fast food you picked up on the go. You'll start to notice your patterns quickly!
  • Do record portion sizes. Record the specific amounts of each food you eat—for example, 1 cup of orange juice or 3 ounces of chicken. Measure portion sizes with standard measuring utensils and a kitchen scale. This not only helps you track your food consumption but will give you familiarity with standard serving sizes. You’ll probably be surprised by what a 3-ounce serving size of chicken or a half-cup of pasta looks like on your plate. Over time, you can begin to “eyeball” servings more accurately and skip the actual measuring.
  • Do let MyPlate be your guide. As you’ll see, half of every meal should consist of fruit and vegetables. Carbs are good, as long as they’re the whole-grain variety. For protein, choose fish, fowl, beans, and nuts over red meat.
You can visit the American Heart Association's website for more tips on heart-healthy eating.

Source: Harvard Health

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Five Tips for Smart Shopping

Eating healthy starts before cooking or selecting a snack from your pantry. Being a savvy shopper makes smart eating choices even easier!
  1. Start at the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where you’ll find the most healthful, freshest, least-processed options. Try to shop the produce, fish, lean meat, low-fat dairy, and bread sections of the store as much as possible to avoid the temptations lurking in the aisles containing snack cakes, chips, sodas, and other packaged and processed foods. Concentrate on filling your basket with healthful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. 
  2. Don’t shop on an empty stomach. We all know what happens when you go to the grocery store when your stomach is rumbling! Everything looks good, especially those quick, easy-to-eat snacks. Try to have a healthy snack, or even a meal, before going to the store. You’ll be less tempted to fill your cart with impulse items.
  3. Get organized. Make a list of foods you need before you leave the house. Do your menu planning for a week at a time, and do your grocery shopping on the same day of each week. A simple routine eliminates the need for midweek trips to the store, which may tempt you to buy food that’s not on your list.
  4. Become a comparison shopper. Decide what’s most important to you when selecting foods, whether it’s sodium, fiber, sugar, calories, or healthful fat, and then use the labels to find those options. You probably won’t find the perfect food, but you will make better decisions by comparing labels.
  5. Become label-savvy. Most of the truly healthful foods like fruits and vegetables don’t have nutrition labels on them. Packaged foods, on the other hand, do, and reading the label is your best guide to choosing the most healthful options. How can you tell whether one breakfast cereal, for example, is better than another? Compare them by checking the Nutrition Facts panel.
Source: Harvard Health

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Four Ways to Sidestep the Pitfalls

Continuing your 2019 goals can be challenging. Reminding yourself of the bigger picture, like better heart health, is just one way to sidestep pitfalls. Use these four tips to overcome setbacks!
  • Always launch change with a plan. Map out the journey you’re embarking upon. It’s tempting to skip straight to the action, especially when you’re feeling inspired to make a change. By winging it, though, you may ignore important issues, such as why you do—and don’t—want to make this change. Make a commitment based on that knowledge, then plan a path of small steps that lead to your goal.
  • Set off at a reasonable pace. Rushing rarely works. Few of us are designed to go from zero to 60. In the exercise world, going to quickly puts you on track for injuries, not success. In the diet world, you get sick of nibbling only celery sticks and raw cabbage, and head for the chocolate cake. Let small, steady changes help you achieve what you hope to do.
  • Envision a happy outcome. Rather than telling yourself “I should be meditating every day” or blaming yourself for failing, try saying aloud “I feel calmer and happier when I meditate regularly.” Framing a change with a positive mindset allows you to be healthier and happier!
  • Expect lapses. Lapses are so normal, experts actually write this into the stages of change. Embrace lapses as part of the process, then brainstorm solutions to the challenges that derailed you. If necessary, whip out your plan to maneuver around lapses. And try, try again.
Source: Harvard Health

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Understand the Risks of Heart Disease You Can't Control

There are several risk factors associated with heart disease. Some can be controlled, but you may be born with certain risk factors that cannot be changed. These include:

Since you can’t control these risk factors, it’s even more important that you manage your risk factors that can be changed. The American Heart Association recommends focusing on heart disease prevention early in life. Begin by assessing your risk factors and working to keep them low. Take steps to lower your risk by changing factors you can control.

American Heart Association

Managing Medications

Prescribed medications come in several forms and are taken in different ways. Even though they are meant to improve health, taking medicat...