By Maya Lightfoot, PSP Ottawa Health Promotion –
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has found that 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke cases are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours. Are you doing what it takes to not be included in this statistic?
The amazing thing about this is that you have control over the choices you make regarding your lifestyle every day! The health of your heart can improve dramatically over time with just a few small changes. Let’s talk about the best choices you can make to keep your “ticker” ticking:
- Eat the right foods to reach your healthy weight: Eating well does not have to be complicated. You can follow a few basic rules to improve your nutrition. First, eat a lot of colourful vegetables and fruit (7-10 servings according to the CFG). These are packed with vitamins, fibre, and healthy carbs. Choose whole grain products (breads and cereals) for energy, fibre and vitamin B, as fibre helps keeping you feeling full and helps with the digestive process. Pick leaner proteins, like skinless poultry, nuts and seeds, fish and legumes. Drink lots of water, and reduce any drinks that bring unnecessary “extra calories”. Minimize processed, high fat, high salt or high sugar foods. These are the “culprits” when it comes to health and weight. To learn more about how to “eat well”, try Health Promotion’s “Weight Wellness” workshop to start your journey to heathier eating habits.
- Bust a move and get your heart rate going: Heart and Stroke Canada suggests 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Daily physical activity has many benefits, such as more energy, easier weight management, better sleep, enhanced mood and focus, and reduced stress. Along with diet, exercise is key to keeping your heart healthy!
- Keep your stress under check: There are many efficient and healthy ways to cope with stress, but the first step is always understanding your stressor(s) and its causes, and how to control and respond to it. (Heart and Stroke). The best stress management strategies include: exercise, mindfulness, counselling, proper sleep, healthy eating, breathing exercises, quitting smoking, spending time with family and friends, and letting go of some of the stresses you have no control over to reduce your emotional “load”.
Even if you choose just one aspect to improve upon or change, you will notice significant results. Be kind to your heart, it’s the only one you have! Don’t become a statistic.
This post is also available in: Français (French)