February is American Heart Month. As a leading non-profit dedicated to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Greater Cleveland offers the following tips to help families throughout Northeast Ohio to be heart healthy:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are 5 simple ways to boost your heart health to promote longevity:
1. GET MOVING: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends exercising at a moderate intensity for minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Don’t like using treadmill? Take advantage of all the great group exercise classes we offer at the YMCA such as Zumba, Y Cycle, Pilates, Yoga, and Barre.
2. MANAGE YOUR MIDDLE: You don’t have to be super-thin to acquire the benefits of a smaller waistline. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a bigger waistline is associated with high blood pressure, elevated blood lipids, and damage to the heart.
3. EAT HEALTHY FATS: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and other tree nuts are great source of healthy fats (Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated) that help reduce the risk for heart disease by lowering your LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) as well as help in maintaining a healthy weight. Other sources of healthy fats include avocados, olive oil, and fish. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish high in omega-3 fats, such as wild salmon, at least twice a week with each serving a 4-ounce portion size. Studies have shown omega-3 fats help increase HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”), reduce risk for sudden cardiac death, and reduce risk for arrhythmia (abnormal health rhythm) in people who consume fish at least twice a week.
4. EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Focus on eating at least five servings of fruits and dark leafy vegetables each day. Eating a variety of fruits and dark leafy vegetables provides heart healthy antioxidants, dietary fiber, and b-vitamins that are known to prevent heart disease. Choose fruits and vegetables that are colorful and focus on a “rainbow” of color to ensure various intakes of nutrients, such as carrots, red pepper, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, oranges, kiwi, dark leafy greens, etc.
5. GET MORE SLEEP: According to National Sleep Foundation, studies have found that people who sleep less than six hours a day are twice as likely to have stroke or heart attack as people who sleep between six to eight hours. Sleeping less than six hours a day leads to disturbances in regulating glucose metabolism, blood pressure and inflammation. Research has also shown adolescents who sleep less than six hours a day also are at a higher risk for developing heart disease due to higher cholesterol levels, larger waist circumference, and risk for hypertension.
Heart health is from the inside out. Take the Healthy Heart Challenge! Download a list of heart-healthy tasks. Share your experience using #HeartHealthyCLE
For more information on programs that promote a healthy heart, visit the Healthy Living tab on ClevelandYMCA.org.