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Celebrating World Heart Day: 5 tips for living a more heart healthy lifestyle
Story Number is : 100316120
Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital

Each year, on September 29, we celebrate World Heart Day. It’s a time to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke and think about ways to improve our own health. Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Manager, Aggie Casey, RN, MS, shares 5 tips you can try to live a more heart healthy lifestyle.

Tip #1: Increase your physical activity
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that we try to get a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity weekly.
-Climb a flight of stairs instead of waiting for the elevator
-Try to get 10,000 steps per day
-Get 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week
-Add free weights 2 times a week

Tip #2: Eat healthy
Don’t skip meals
-Eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day
-Avoid drinking coffee all day
-Try to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water or other non-calorie beverages a day
-Choose whole grains and healthy proteins
-Eat 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
-Avoid processed foods
-Eating is not a race! Take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal
-Plan your meals for the week
-Monitor what you eat and keep a record

Tip #3: Learn to reduce your stress level
-Reduce the noise level in your environment
-Don’t watch the late evening news
-Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get places
-Check your breathing throughout the day
-Try one of these brief relaxation exercises 3 to 4 times a day:
• As you breathe in, count slowly up to 4, as you breathe out, count slowly back to 1; do this several times
• Visualize a square; on the in-breath, visualize the vertical and horizontal line; on the out-breath, visualize another vertical and horizontal line to complete the square; repeat this several times.
• Practice being mindful, whether it is taking a mindful walk, eating mindfully or taking time to observe nature
• Practice being patient by becoming a less aggressive driver
• Try to have at least one meaningful conversation with someone every day

Tip #4: Get a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to your physical and emotional well-being. Most people require 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
-Stick to a sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
-Decrease noise, bright lights or a TV or computer in the bedroom and try room darkening shades or relaxation exercises before sleep
-Try to get outside in the natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day
-Try soothing music, a warm bath or a shower before bedtime
-Take 5 minutes to identify something you felt grateful for or appreciated from the day

Tip #5: Have fun!
Build in time for yourself. Life is about achieving balance between work, family and leisure activities.
-Meet a friend for dinner
-Go to the movies
-Choose a hobby you enjoy
-Have a sense of humor
-Get a massage
-Attend a continuing education class
-Eat your dinner by candlelight
-Go for a walk in nature
-Treat yourself to something new or good

If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease you might benefit from Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, which includes monitored exercise, nutrition counseling, stress management and health education classes. For further information or to schedule an appointment, call 617-983-7105.

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