Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
There’s an easy recipe if your goal is to keep away problems like heart disease and strokes.
- Eat more fruits and veggies.
- Choose whole grains. Try brown rice instead of white. Switch to whole wheat pasta.
- Choose lean proteins like poultry, fish, beans, and legumes.
- Cut down on processed foods, sugar, salt, and saturated fat.
When eating healthy, flexibility often works best, says Joyce Meng, MD, assistant professor at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health. If you like to follow a strict diet plan, go for it. If not, it’s OK. “Find what works for you.”
Tricia Montgomery, 52, the founder of K9 Fit Club, knows first-hand how the right diet and lifestyle can help. For her, choosing healthy foods and planning small, frequent meals works well. “I don’t deny myself anything,” she says. “I still have dessert — key lime pie, yum! — and I love frozen gummy bears, but moderation is key.”
Exercise Every Day
The more active you are, the better, Meng says. Exercise boosts your heart health, builds muscle and bone strength, and wards off health problems.
Aim for 2 and a half hours of moderate activity, like brisk walking or dancing, every week. If you’re OK with vigorous exercise, stick to 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of things like running or playing tennis. Add a couple of days of strength training, too.
If you’re busy, try short bursts of activity throughout the day. Walk often. A good target is 10,000 steps a day. Take the stairs. Park your car far away from your destination.
Montgomery exercises every day, often with her dog. By adding lunges, squats, and stairs to a walk, she turns it into a power workout. “I also am a huge Pilates fan,” she says.