10 Steps to Becoming a Heart Healthy Role Model

11.02.21 05:50 PM By Forsite Benefits

Adopting and sticking to heart-healthy habits is important for everyone at every age.  With heart disease being the leading cause of death among Americans, educating yourself on heart health is of the utmost importance. There are many ways to practice a lifestyle that contributes to heart health, in turn lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms of cardiovascular disease may be different between men and women. Men are more likely to have chest pain, whereas women are more likely to have chest discomfort; shortness of breath, nausea, and extreme fatigue. If any of these symptoms occur, call 911 immediately! 

American Heart Statistics.

  • Nearly 1 in 3 Americans’ cause of death is cardiovascular disease.
  • Smoking leads to 1 of every 3 deaths from cardiovascular disease.
  • Cardiovascular disease kills 1 woman every 80 seconds!
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men.
  • Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the U.S.A.

You may already be conscious of your heart’s needs and taking steps to maintain your most important organ’s health. Or maybe heart-health has not been at the top of your priority list over the years. The good news is, it is not too late to develop some habits that will help you take care of your heart!

Here are 10 ways you can start taking better care of your heart today, and influence those around you.

1.  Eat healthy at home. 

First, take notes on what foods are best to make up the majority of your diet. The American Heart Association recommends eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean animal protein, fish, nuts, and legumes. Using mainly these ingredients, create balanced meals.

Click here for a Heart Healthy Recipe Guide that is good for your heart and wallet. 

To make balanced, daily nutrition easy, plan your shopping list and weekly meals ahead of time to avoid impulse purchases, drive-through meals, and an unbalanced diet.

2.  Seek out a reputable, In-Network doctor and schedule your annual wellness checkup.

Your annual wellness visit with your primary care provider helps establish a baseline for your vital stats; weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. This very important annual visit helps foster a relationship with your doctor, creating a comfortable environment and trust for if a more serious health issue were to occur. Going annually also helps your doctor with early detection of disease or other health problems.

No one likes a surprise healthcare bill in the mail. This brief article describes how to be sure your annual visit is FREE!  An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure.

3.  Get Active Every Day.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. With our busy schedules of work, social and family life, waking up before the sun shines might feel like your only option to fulfill a physical activity quota. The trick is to treat the time you need for physical activity like an important meeting and schedule time to move in your calendar. Whether it’s multiple 10-minute breaks throughout the day to get out of your seat and stretch, or 30 minutes during lunch to go for a walk, find a routine that is comfortable for you. To take your daily routine to the next level, add some accountability. Ask a co-worker or family member to join you. Make it a club; walking, running, yoga, or any other movement you enjoy.

Here is a quick list of  30 ways to get your steps in at home.

4.  Do away with bad habits such as over-indulging in alcohol and smoking.

Over-indulging in alcohol is defined as more than one drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. Smoking and drinking alcohol narrows the blood vessels and forces the heart to beat harder, which can ultimately lead to high blood pressure. Measurements above 140/90mmHg are considered to be high blood pressure.

5.  Live out your heart-healthy habits with the ones you love. 

Allow those around you to witness your daily commitment to heart health. Include your family in your daily exercise routine; walking together, taking bike rides, practicing yoga or engaging in other physical activities. Shop for and cook your favorite heart-healthy meals together. 

As a role model, here are 5 healthier living resolutions for you to commit to, and share with everyone around you. 

6.  Know your family history of heart health and take note of risk factors.

Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle alone can reduce your risk of heart disease by 45%. A crucial component to being proactive in your heart health is knowing your family’s medical history. Do you know of any cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure that runs in your family? Inform your doctor of your findings during your annual physical, so together, you can act early to mitigate the onset of any possible genetic cardiac disease.

7.  Practice meditation to improve factors linked with heart disease.

The slowing of your breathing helps you breathe deeper, ultimately lowering the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, helps lower blood pressure, aids in smoking cessation and will reduce mortality risk from heart disease.

Wondering where to start with meditation? For easy, in-home meditation, YouTube contains countless meditation guides for anxiety, relaxation, mindfulness, and so much more.

8.  Maintain a healthy body weight as your metabolism slows down with age.

Muscle cells require more energy than fat cells. As we get older, we tend to lose muscle cells, hence our metabolism slows. Eating protein rich foods, such as fish, legumes, dairy, among other foods, could help increase your metabolism and helps your body hold onto muscle mass. For women, the decrease in estrogen, typically around menopause, makes a big impact on regulating metabolism.

Practice good habits in diet and exercise to maintain a healthy body weight.

9.  Check your blood pressure levels on a regular basis.

54% of strokes and 47% of coronary heart diseases worldwide are attributed to high blood pressure, so it is important to be in tune to your blood pressure levels. Have fun with your kids at the pharmacy or grocery store checking your blood pressure together near the store pharmacy.

How is Blood Pressure Measured?

Blood pressure is measured with two numbers. The first number, systolic pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscles contract. The second number, diastolic pressure, is the measure of your blood pressure between heart beats. Ideally, your blood pressure should be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. 

10.  Be Mindful of Your Mental Health.

The American Heart Association recommends that depression be recognized as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. Depression increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 80%. There is a simple prescription for both mental health and cardiovascular disease; moving! Activity improves mood, sleep, response to stress and memory function. 

I hope this article has given you ideas on how you can start in keeping or making your heart healthy. A great way to start putting your heart health front of mind is to pick 2 or 3 of the 10 ways listed above and focus on those solutions for a given time. When those practices become habit, pick 1 or 2 more to focus on. No one is perfect but taking the proper steps in the right direction can only help!

On the personal side, get your family or loved ones involved. Everyone does better when it becomes social. Not only will you hold each other accountable, but you will be able to spend more time together doing something for your health!

On the professional side, check into seeing if your employer has a wellness program. If they do, see how you can get involved. If your employer does not have a wellness program, start a walking club with your coworkers! You will be surprised at how quickly others will be interested in learning about what you are doing, or they may start a club of their own that interests them!

For more information on how Forsite Benefits | Motion Connected has helped individuals and employers jump start their wellbeing platform, please contact me directly msteffek@forsitebenefits.com or 920-593-1912. Forsite Benefits | Motion Connected has seen fantastic results when it comes to mental and physical health improvements, along with correlations of improved health and improved health insurance performance when utilizing our resources. 

This article was written by Missy Steffek | msteffek@forsitebenefits.com

As a Benefit Advisor for the Forsite Team, Missy believes deeply in the importance of proper communication when it comes to company-sponsored benefit programs. Through her experiences as a frequent user and navigator of healthcare, Missy is an incredible connection for any professional seeking benefit communication and open enrollment advice. 

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