February is American Heart Month, a time to focus on being smart when it comes to your heart! In the United States, heart disease is a leading cause of death in men and women. According to the American Heart Association, these are some of the risk factors for heart disease:
- Having high blood pressure
- Having high blood cholesterol
- Being overweight
- Being a smoker
- Having unhealthy eating behaviors
- Not being active
- Having Diabetes
- Having a family history of heart disease
- Being age 55 or older for women or 45 or older for men
Change your habits.
Each risk factor increases your chance of developing heart disease. The more you have, the higher your overall risk. Of course, some of these factors cannot be changed, like your age or family history. But the good news is, others are completely controllable! Quitting smoking and changing your eating habits are a great place to start. Why not include some of these heart-healthy foods on your next grocery list:
- Veggies! Especially leafy greens, broccoli, and carrots
- Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, and prunes
- Whole grains like oatmeal or brown rice
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy
- Protein-rich foods such as fish, lean meats, and eggs
Try adding these power foods to your meals slowly and then increase the frequency. Eventually, buying and preparing them will become second nature. There are foods to limit, as well. Watch out for foods with added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Avoiding alcohol can also keep you on the road to a heart-healthy life. You may have heard the old saying, everything in moderation!
Exercise is good for the heart!
If you are not currently active, check with your physician about adding exercise to your daily routine. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends each week adults get at least:
- 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or
- 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or
- A combination of both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity.
What if pain, or mobility issues prevent you from participating in daily exercise? Do not worry, help is available! Did you know Physical Therapists are movement experts? They can design a personalized plan to improve your mobility, manage pain and chronic conditions, or help you recover from injury or disease. Your treatment program will include education about which physical activities are safe for you to do, along with therapeutic exercises to increase your aerobic endurance, muscle strength, stability, and range of motion. At the end of your in-clinic program, your Physical Therapist will set you up with the ability to continue your exercise plan on your own, leaving you with the tools to take control of your heart-healthy life.
Phoenix Physical Therapy has experts ready to help. To schedule an appointment with one of our Physical Therapists, click here to find a clinic location near you.