Heart Healthy Choices

With the change in the seasons upon us and the holidays coming up, it is a great time to focus on little things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Don’t let the winter weather or shorter days get in your way, there are many things you can do to stay healthy. Finding ways to make healthy choices, get physical activity and avoid stress are great places to start. Enjoy these tips for keeping your heart in top shape this winter!

Woman preparing a salad

Healthy Food Choices

  • Choose foods that are high in whole grains. The fiber in whole grains has been shown to protect against heart disease.
  • Skip foods that are made with white flour or refined sugar. White flour and refined sugar found in baked goods, candy, regular soda and other sweet drinks can cause weight gain and spikes in blood sugar. Both of these are hard on your heart.
  • Look for heart healthy fats. Certain kinds of fats like omega-3s and monounsaturated fats have been shown to help lower cholesterol and are good for your heart. Find these kinds of fats in fish, olive oil, avocado and almonds.

Physical Activity

  • Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day, five to seven days per week. If 30 minutes all at once seems too hard, break it up. Three sets of 10 minutes of exercise or two sets of 15 minutes of exercise is just as good as 30 minutes all at once!
  • Choose something you enjoy. Walking, swimming, biking and dancing all count as exercise. If you choose something you like you will be more likely to stick with it.
  • Take baby steps. If you are new to exercising, start small. Take the stairs to your floor or park your car further from the building. When what you are doing starts to feel too easy, add a little more!

Say No to Stress

  • Take three deep breaths. Stress is all around us. Most people feel stress daily. When we are stressed, it raises our blood pressure. This makes our heart have to work harder. When you start to feel stressed, try taking three deep breaths. This will help your body relax.
  • Stay positive. People with a positive attitude are less likely to have stress-linked heart problems. Just having a laugh or looking at things on the bright side can help keep stress away.
  • Take ‘me’ time. Take time to yourself to relax. Think of things that you enjoy and schedule time to do them each day.
Denver Health Medical Plan Staff Writer