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Tips to keep your heart healthy

Published On: Feb 06 2012 03:32:57 PM CST
Updated On: Jul 06 2012 03:07:48 PM CDT
heart pillow with bandaid

(NewsUSA) - As you may know, heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women in the United States, and it imposes astronomical costs on our health care system -- approximately $258 billion in 2006 when accounting for health care services, medications and lost productivity. So, what can you do in your day-to-day life to keep your heart healthy?

Here are 10 tips from the Weight-control Information Network you should take to heart:

* Measure up. Take time to measure your waist circumference. If it measures more than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men, your risk of developing heart disease is increased.

* Be active. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity, physical activity into your day. And don't worry, you don't have to do it all at once. For example, take the stairs or get off the bus or subway one stop early so you can walk the rest of the way.

* Stick together. Walk, jog or take an exercise class with a friend or a group. You can cheer each other on, have company while you work out and feel safe when you are outdoors.

* Eat right. Make a healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. It should also include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. And don't forget a healthy plan is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.

* Have fun. Take part in physical activities you enjoy like walking, dancing, swimming or playing sports.

* Choose fruits and vegetables. When you want a snack, opt for fruits and vegetables. Keep a bowl of fruit on the table, bags of mini carrots in the refrigerator and boxes of raisins in the cupboard for inspiration.

* Multi-task. Build physical activity into your regular chores. For example, rake the yard, wash the car or do energetic housework. This way you can get your work done while adding physical activity to your day.

* Listen to your body. Find out what physical activities you can perform safely if you have a previous injury or medical condition, and talk with your health care provider about your concerns. Also, be sure to follow advice about length and intensity of workouts.

* Use fats and oils sparingly. You can find heart-healthy fat as well as vitamins and minerals in the following: olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, avocados, nuts, nut butters, olives and fish.

* Track your progress. Write down your goals and what you have done each day. Seeing your progress on paper may help keep you motivated and heart healthy!