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Stages of Heart Health: From Zero to Hero

The news is in: only three percent of Americans meet the qualifications for a “healthy lifestyle” according to a recent study. If you are part of the 97 percent that isn’t the most encouraging news. But take courage! The core of healthy lifestyle choices are things that are in your control- exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. Changing your habits might be hard, but it’s not impossible. And we believe in you! To help you believe in yourself, here are a few tips to help guide you to a new, healthier lifestyle.

How old is your heart? Check out our profiler to learn your heart age!

Exercise Regularly

Beginning an exercise routine can feel like entering a strange and unfamiliar land- the rituals, clothing and language are all new; people are expected to spot strangers while lifting weights? Must I really wear spandex? What is a “rep”? Fortunately, starting a heart healthy exercise plan doesn’t require fancy equipment or hours at the gym. As little as 30 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving, simultaneously helping you manage your weight and improve your blood pressure and cholesterol. You might even find yourself enjoying this time to yourself and feeling an increase in your overall mood and mental well-being.

You can totally wear the spandex if you like, though. We won’t judge.

Richard Simmons exercise

Eat a Balanced Diet

The good news is you get to try all kinds of yummy, heart healthy recipes. The bad news is that it might take some practice. Getting into good eating habits is all about eating the nutrient-rich foods that will help fuel your body, while limiting fats, trans fats, sodium, red meat and sugary drinks. At first you might feel like:healthy food gif

But once you get the hang of it, you'll be a heart healthy expert! Look for plenty of fruits and veggies (frozen and canned are totally ok!), whole grains, non-tropical oils and lean meats. And read your labels! Know what you’re eating and make wise choices.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

We can hear you groan and we totally get it. This seems to be the most common advice under the sun, while also one of the hardest things to do. Luckily, if you implement item one and two on this list, you will be well on your way to a healthy weight. An active lifestyle will help you control your blood pressure and weight, reducing the strain on your heart, lungs and blood vessels. Soon enough you’ll be like:

Rocky gif

Don’t Smoke

We all know smoking is bad for you, and we all know it’s really really hard to quit. It can also be scary and overwhelming. But there are resources out there that can help, from smoking cessation aids like the patch or gum to our own Stop Smoking Treatment Program. The right combination of treatments can empower you to quit safely and comfortably. Having mastery over smoking can be empowering; it’ll have you feeling like:

Beyonce gif

You can totally do this. We believe in you, and know you have the tools and confidence needed to make heart smart lifestyle changes. And if you ever have trouble, feel free to come visit us at a location near you and we’ll come up with a plan that is right for you. So go on out there and knock it out of the park! You can do it and we’ve got your back!

virtual hug gif

About this Blog

The Penn Heart and Vascular blog provides the latest information on heart disease prevention, nutrition and breakthroughs in cardiovascular care.

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