How to keep your heart healthy during and after American heart month

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor    (Courtesy Image)

Even if you‘ve stopped your New Year’s Resolution of being healthier, it’s not too late to pick it back up; with February being American Heart Month, it’s the perfect time to do that.

The American Heart Association’s “Healthy for Good” Movement has four key components to living healthier: Eat smart, add color, move more, be well.

Eat Smart

“Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean dieting or giving up all the foods you love. Learn how to ditch the junk, give your body the nutrient-dense fuel it needs, and love every minute of it!”

– healthyforgood.heart.org

There are many facets to non-dieting eating habits. Portion control is one of them.

The American Heart Association’s website says a portion is “how much food we choose to eat.” The key word there is ‘choose.’ It is completely up to us how much we eat at a time. That might mean not eating that extra piece of pizza or only eating half of that big plate of pasta and saving the rest for later.

The first few days of watching your portions can be hard, but Thomas DeLauer, a fitness instructor at sixpackabs.com says eating smaller portions over time can shrink your stomach, which means after a while you won’t be as hungry.

If you watch HOW you eat, the AHA says you won’t have to watch WHAT you eat as much. You can still eat the same foods you love, as long as you don’t eat too much of it.

Add Color

“An easy first step to eating healthy is to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. All forms (fresh, frozen, canned and dried) and all colors count, so go ahead and add color to your plate – and your life.”

– healthyforgood.heart.org

Even if you don’t necessarily have to remove every “bad” thing you eat from your diet, it doesn’t hurt to add good things like fruits and vegetables to it. In fact, we need them.

The AHA lists five reasons to eat fruits and vegetables.

  1. Full of the good.

Everyone knows how nutritional fruits and vegetables are. The AHA says they provide the body with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein, calcium, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients, all things vital to a healthy life.

  1. Free of the bad.

Fruits and vegetables usually don’t have any trans fat; the are low in saturated fat; and they contain very little sodium, things that most unhealthy foods do have. The natural sugars that fruits and vegetables contain aren’t unhealthy like added sugars.

  1. Won’t weigh you down.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of fiber and water, so they fill you up fast without having to eat as many calories.

  1. Super flexiblesuperfoods.

No, that doesn’t mean they’re like Elastagirl from “The Incredibles.” That means they are some of the most versatile food groups; there are so many ways you can eat them. You can have raw like baby carrots; cooked like steamed broccoli; whole like a fresh-picked apple; or chopped like a salad. You can eat canned peaches, frozen blueberries, dried pineapples or a 100 percent juice drink. There are countless ways you can eat fruits and vegetables, however, suits your taste and lifestyle.

  1. A whole body health boost

The AHA says eating fruits and vegetables “can help lower your risk of many serious and chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, osteoporosis and some types of cancer.”

Move More

“A good starting goal is at least 150 minutes a week, but if you don’t want to sweat the numbers, just move more! Find forms of exercise you like and will stick with, and build more opportunities to be active into your routine.”

– healthyforgood.heart.org

The last two ways to be healthier were things for you to do on your own, but this one is where OBU can help.

OBU’s wellness coordinator, Lindsay Mitchell said there are many benefits to moving more.

“Cardio is known to strengthen your heart so that it does not have to work as hard to pump blood; it also reduces your chances of having a heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes and increases overall self-esteem.”

So what can you do to move more?

“There are countless ways to be involved in cardio. Other options besides running are walking, cycling, swimming and hiking,” Mitchell said.

And what exactly is OBU doing to help?

“We have so many options to become involved in at the RAWC. We have a wide variety of exercise equipment here in the facility. We have a swimming pool, walking track, treadmills, bikes, ellipticals and weight machines. We have group fitness classes offered all throughout the week. We have anything from Spin, Kickboxing, Water Aerobics and so much more,” Mitchell said.

Almost all of these things can be done with a partner, so you and a friend, or a more-than-friend, can start being healthier together.

Be Well

“Along with eating right and being active, real health includes getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, managing stress, keeping mind and body fit, connecting socially, and more.”

– healthyforgood.heart.org

The last component of the AHA’s Healthy for Good movement is “be well,” and this simply means being mindful and taking care of our bodies in every facet of our lives, even if that means just slowing down a little.

For more info about the AHA’s Healthy for Good movement go to their campaign website, and go to OBU’s wellness site to see all that the wellness team has to offer go to .

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