Developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle dramatically reduces the risk of developing heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in America. But sometimes, transformation can seem overwhelming—and patients who feel overwhelmed may not implement these lifestyle changes. Many patients find that they can make major changes by making smaller, more immediate goals, and then take these items one at a time, gradually building upon new habits until it becomes a new way of life.
Here are three small steps that you can take right now to improve your heart health.
1. Bypass the salt
Even if you don’t add salt to your food, you may not be aware of how much salt is in food you are already eating. Learn to read product labels and try to avoid foods that are high in sodium, such as pizza, soups, cold cuts and cured meats.
2. Know your numbers
It’s hard to improve your health when you don’t know where you stand. Knowledge is power, and education is instrumental to help you on your health care journey throughout your life. If you don’t know your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and tricycleride levels, then have them evaluated by your physician. If your levels are too high, then you can work with your physician on more specific strategies to improve them.
Beginning an exercise routine doesn’t mean you have to join the local gym or have the latest exercise equipment. Even something as simple as walking the dog or taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a step in the right direction. Commit yourself to some type of exercise for five days a week. Don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry. Your physician can help you come up with a plan.