Protect your heart with healthy habits
Lana Goldsmith, ARNP, encourages patients to exercise regularly.
"A sedentary lifestyle is one of the five major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. When I meet with my patients and discuss lifestyle changes I always encourage them to try to exercise on a regularly basis; exercising for 30 minutes or more on most days can help with weight loss, improve cholesterol, and even lower blood pressure by as many as five to seven points!"
Lana personally enjoys cardio kickboxing and strength training; so much so that seven years ago she became a coach and instructor at a local gym. Leading classes not only keeps her accountable to practicing what she preaches to patients but she gets to people transform their lives and reap the benefits from regular exercise.
Lana practices other heart-healthy behaviors as well:
- Exercise regularly–specifically cardio kickboxing and strength training.
- “Clean” eating–snacking on vegetables, eating lean meat, avoiding foods that are high in fat.
- Meal preparation and planning–planning her meals for the week (or at least 3 days ahead) and have healthy go-to snacks (such as almonds, dried fruit, and apples) ready to go makes her calories count.
Key facts that might persuade someone to start heart healthy behavior:
“I personally like how I feel after a good workout and the benefits that come with it. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins fight stress; reducing stress is an important factor in reducing risks for heart disease.”
A heart-healthy lifestyle has plenty of good benefits, including:
- Reduction in body weight
- Reduction in blood pressure
- Reduction in bad (LDL and total) cholesterol
- Increase in good (HDL) cholesterol
- Increase in insulin sensitivity
According to the AHA, sedentary lifestyle is one of the five major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The other four risk factors are high blood pressure, abnormal values for blood lipids, smoking, and obesity.
Regular exercise is an important way to lower your risk of heart disease. Exercising 30 minutes or more on most days can help you lose weight, improve your cholesterol, and potentially lower your blood pressure by up to five to seven points.
Exercise helps heart health and can even reverse some heart disease risk factors. Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger as a result of exercise, so it can pump more blood through the body with every beat and continue to work at maximum level, if needed, with less strain.
Excess weight causes your heart to work harder and increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Exercising regularly and eating smaller portions of nutrient-rich foods may help you maintain a healthy weight.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable. During American Heart Month, you’re invited to make a difference in your health and implement heart-healthy behaviors to reduce your risk for heart disease.