It’s February, and if you already feel a little guilty about the New Year’s Resolutions you’ve let slip, you are not alone.
Fortunately, a resolution to boost your heart’s health can be easier to keep than you think!
Even with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on gyms and exercise class gatherings, we want to share six easy actions any of us can take to improve the health of our hearts.
Read cans and rinse vegetables.
Too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, a condition that puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. You’ve likely already moved the salt shaker off the table (yay, you!), but canned vegetables add unhealthy amounts of sodium to your diet. When shopping, peek at how much sodium is listed on the nutrition label of your canned corn, carrots and collard greens (and all others) and buy the low-salt varieties. Before using canned vegetables in your cooking, dump them into a sieve and give them a rinse to wash away much of the sodium.
Bounce up during binge-watching.
From your couch or easy chair, stand up for 10 minutes or lift your legs straight out in front of you 20 times. You’ll make your heart pump more than it will just sitting and binge-watching Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Park your car away from the door.
Driving around a lot looking for a parking space close to the door does three things: uses more gas, adds pollution to the air and keeps you sitting longer. Some patients say the best change they made toward strengthening their heart was parking far from the door wherever they went. This helps with social distancing as well. Being forced to walk exercises your heart muscle and can even help you lose weight!
Wash your hands whenever you can.
Infections can be really hard on your heart. We all unconsciously touch our eyes, nose and mouth many times during the way, and these are the portals through which germs leave and enter the body. The best way to protect your heart from the dangers of infections is to wash your hands often every day. Scrub with soap and water for 15 seconds. COVID-19, the flu and pneumonia can be especially hard on your heart, so be sure to get your vaccines, too.
Say no to secondhand smoke.
Now you can show smokers proof: If you’re exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work, your risk of heart disease goes up by 25 to 30 percent, and even higher if you have hypertension or high blood cholesterol. Let the smokers in your life know that secondhand smoke promotes the buildup of plaque in your arteries, and insist they take it outside (especially around children).
Take care of your mental health.
Everyone gets sad sometimes, especially when isolated during the pandemic. But we are at greater risk for heart disease if we stay that way for long. Reach out to friends or family for support when you’re feeling down or isolated, especially if you are isolated to protect yourself from COVID-19. If your state of mind doesn’t improve after two weeks, call your Johnson Memorial Hospital physician. We’re here for you no matter what your health needs!
Not everyone can start improving their heart’s health with vigorous exercise, but we all can take these steps to protect this vital organ.
If you suspect you are having heart issues, contact the Cardiovascular Care Center at Johnson Memorial Health at 317.668.2200. In partnership with IU Health Physicians Cardiology, we offer diagnostic and interventional cardiac services to identify and reverse the effects of heart disease.