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Source: Dr. Zankhana Raval, Holy Name Medical Center
“Eat right, exercise, quit smoking…” Yes, those are crucial to better heart health, but putting them into action isn’t always easy. So here are practical “heart hacks” that can help create a way of life that can make you happier, healthier, and even strengthen your heart.
LIVING IN THE MOMENT. Living in the moment means making the right decision, for right now. For example: “Am I really feeling hungry for this food right now? Does it taste good enough to justify its potential health and weight effects?” Or “Instead of pressing the snooze button, can I get up right now and make a healthy breakfast, or do a few minutes of exercise?
In any given moment, have the energy and the fortitude to do the right thing.
MAKING HEALTHIER CHOICES. Again, the goal is to slowly change our preferences so that we actually feel happy and satisfied with good food and good habits. This also involves incorporating healthier choices into your diet and lifestyle. So, for example, you’re in the mood for a soda. Instead of opting for a can that contains as many as nine teaspoons of sugar, you choose a flavored seltzer, which has little to no sugar. It’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a soda every now and then, but start to think a little more about what you’re putting into your body on a regular basis. Learning how to make healthier food choices could be as simple as a tweak in how you make a meal, like baking versus frying.
ACTING. We know 30 minutes of daily, moderate physical activity can have a huge impact on heart health. But if even that seems overwhelming, you don’t have to act all at one time. Spread the 30 minutes out across the day by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to the bathroom that’s farthest from your desk. Throw in a little housework and/or gardening, and before you know it, you’ll have done at least 30 minutes of physical activity.
REACTING. Studies show excessive stress can contribute to heart disease. Car troubles, financial problems, family issues — they’re not always easy to handle. But if you overreact, your body may release stress hormones that temporarily cause breathing and heart rate to speed up, and your blood pressure to rise. It’s known as the “fight or flight” response, and while it protected our ancestors from danger, it’s not necessary when we’re sitting in traffic. So, it’s important not to let your reaction get the best of you. Instead: Laugh. Find some quiet time.
Make your health and peacefulness a priority.
By Zankhana Raval MD, Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck NJ. partner, visit HolyName.org/medicalPartners.