If life is a road trip, your heart is the engine powering your journey. Treat it right, and it will keep you humming along for years. But slack off on proper care and maintenance, and you can expect lots of problems.
Not sure of the best route to a healthy heart? Joan Murphy, R.N., Ph.D., director of Women’s Wellness Consultants at Little Company of Mary, offers a clear healthy heart road map to get you where you want to go.
Fuel Up on Healthy Food
- Keep your motor running smoothly by paying closer attention to what you put into it.
- Focus on high-fiber foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Aim for 20 to 25 grams of fiber—or four to five servings of fruit and vegetables — each day.
- Choose whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, lean meats and poultry. “Also, aim to eat fish at least twice a week,” Murphy advises.
- Plan heart-healthy snacks, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the day.
Get That Engine Moving
Regular activity is just as important as eating well. If you can’t squeeze in an hour of exercise, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Instead, try fitting fitness into your daily routine.
“Get a small pedometer and count your daily steps,” Murphy says. “Aim for 10,000 a day. It’s easier than you think! For example, when you go shopping, park at the far end of the lot and walk in. Take the dog for an extra loop around the block. All
those steps add up.”
Watch for Roadblocks
Just as important as what you do for a healthy heart is what you don’t do.
- Slow down on sugar, carbohydrates and sodium. Read your food labels — sugar is everywhere!
- Cut back on saturated fat. If the label shows more than 9 grams, try to avoid that food.
Get out of the fast lane when possible. “Most of the time, what upsets us are just the small things,” Murphy says. “Conflict is everywhere, but you control how you deal with stress. If you’re adding fuel to the fire and raising your blood pressure and heart rate, you are really overworking that wonderful machine.”
If you are interested in learning more about optimizing your health, we have a great event called “Celebrate the Heart of Women” on February 26 from 9a-12 at the Oak Lawn Hilton. The event includes a special liturgy, breakfast, and an educational lecture. Learn more about Celebrate the Heart of Women.