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Simple Ways to Be Heart Healthy

This content was originally published February 2018 and has been updated February 11, 2021.

Did you know one in five heart attacks goes unnoticed? Meaning, the damage done to your arteries has happened without any prevalent symptoms, which can make someone even more susceptible to future heart attacks [1]. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, making it extremely important to prioritize taking care of your heart. MOVE Wellness is collaborating with the American Heart Association to encourage people everywhere to be aware of their cardiac health. February is Heart Month and a great time to remind everyone of four simple ways to be heart healthy.

Yoga Teacher showing us how to be heart healthy by managing stress

Step 1: Manage your stress

Stress increases blood pressure. One of the key indicators of possible heart issues in the future is high blood pressure. High blood pressure simply means that the force of blood pushing against your blood vessel walls is too high [1].  This becomes problematic because when blood is pumping this forcefully, the extra pressure can damage the lining of the blood vessels over time. Since nutrients and oxygen are delivered to your body via these vessels, once they are damaged, it is impossible for your body to get the nutrients and oxygen it needs to survive.

Two great ways to combat stress are taking yoga classes, or practicing meditation on your own. We recommend the free meditation app Insight Timer for practicing meditation at home. Talk with your trainer or the front desk for more information.

Hearth Healthy graphic

Step 2: Know your heart healthy numbers

How high is too high? [2]

  • A BP under 120/80 is normal
  • 120-139 (systolic BP) or 80-89 (diastolic BP) indicates pre-hypertension (pre-high blood pressure.

Anything over these numbers means a high blood pressure diagnosis. Other numbers to know: sleep hours, daily steps, blood pressure, veggie intake, BMI, Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, TG, Apo A, Calcium Score, CIMT, Fasting BS, HgbA1c, Cortisol, B vitamins, Iron, Ferritin, Vit D, Testosterone, Resting heart rate, Thyroid, HRV

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider today to learn about your numbers – this knowledge could just save your life.

Vegetable Chili for heart healthy nutrition

Step 3: Nutrition for heart health

Be mindful of cholesterol-heavy foods, including eggs, full-fat cheeses, chicken dishes, burgers, etc. and consult your physician for tailored eating guidelines. The American Heart Association recommends eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean poultry or fish, whole grains, and skim or low-fat dairy products. To get you started, we recommend trying our delicious Vegetable Chili Recipe.

A view of someone out for a walk from above.

Step 4: Get Your Heart Rate Up

In simple terms, find ways to move every day. Walking is one of the best things we can do for our overall physical and mental health. In addition, it’s also one of the most accessible forms of exercise available. A brisk walk or a 30-minute jog each day is a great place to start moving and increase your heart rate!

Another fun option to integrate some cardio into your routine is a barre class at MOVE. Barre integrates elements of dance, yoga, cardio, strength training and yes, even Pilates. It can be a great choice for anyone cleared by a medical professional for exercise… no dance training needed! 

You can also try out the New York Times 7-minute workout at home to get your heart rate up. With just 12 exercises using only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort.

Signs and symptoms of heart attack

Stay on the lookout for these important, hard-to-recognize symptoms of a heart attack brought to you by the AHA’s Go Red For Women [3]:

Symptoms in Women

  • Chest pain, but not always
  • Pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Jaw, neck or upper back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Indigestion
  • Extreme fatigue

Symptoms in Men

  • Squeezing chest pressure or pain
  • Jaw, neck or back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
A Men's Pilates class on the Bosu.

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[1] https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heart_attack.htm

[2] https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/how-high-blood-pressure-is-diagnosed

[3] https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/signs-and-symptoms-in-women

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