Action Item #2: Commit to improving your own heart health by doing at least one of the following: increasing physical activity, eating a more balanced, healthier diet, eliminating tobacco, and managing stress more effectively.
Women of INFluence know how to empower other women to positively impact heart health by sharing the INFluence message and encouraging a call to action. Reaching out to other women is important, but improving your own heart health through diet, exercise, stress management, and avoiding tobacco should be your first priority.
Tips for increasing physical activity
- Engage in moderate-vigorous physical activity for 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) or more per week. Click here to view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s adult physical activity guidelines.
- Examples of moderate-vigorous activity include: walking, hiking, stair climbing, jogging, running, bicycling, swimming, housework, gardening, dancing, tennis, basketball, and other types of exercise that raise the heart rate.
- Dedicate 2 times a week to strength training activities like push-ups, sit-ups, calisthenics, and weight machines. Click here to learn more about strength training.
- Having trouble fitting in 2 ½ hours of moderate-vigorous activity per week? Use your work breaks to take a 10-minute brisk walk, or dance in the kitchen while preparing dinner. You do not have to engage in long stretches of physical activity to gain a health benefit! Three ten-minute periods of physical activity spread throughout the day are as beneficial as a thirty-minute stretch.
- Looking for a way to spice up your exercise routine? Check out your local library for workout DVDs covering everything from Pilates to kickboxing and information about free or low-cost fitness classes.
- Log onto INShape Indiana for more information and resources on increasing physical activity. Sign up now to participate in the new Active8 program. Beginning January 11, the Active8 program will provide you with tips on how to reach your health goals by moving more and eating better.
Tips for eating a heart-healthy diet
- Choose low-fat, low cholesterol sources of proteins such as: lean meat, poultry and fish; egg whites; flaxseed; walnuts; soybeans; and legumes.
- Eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Find out how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need per day, based on your age and activity level.
- To get the freshest produce at the best price, buy fruits and vegetables that are in season and learn how to incorporate them into meals and snacks. Remember that frozen and canned fruits and vegetables count towards your daily servings, too! Click here for lots of tips on how to add more vegetables to your diet.
- When dining out, ask restaurant staff to point out menu options that are are lower in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sugar, if this information is not readily available on the menu. Choose baked, broiled, or steamed foods over fried whenever possible. Restaurant portion sizes are often two to three times the size of normal portions, so take half of your meal home to eat the next day.
- Eat more high-fiber whole grain consumption to help lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Whole grains are also a good source of vitamins and minerals.
- Decrease salt intake to less than a teaspoon a day by avoiding processed foods and high-sodium condiments. If you choose canned foods, select the “no salt added” variety. Decreased sodium intake can help prevent high blood pressure.
- Log onto INShape Indiana for more information and resources on healthy eating. Sign up now to participate in the new Active8 program. Beginning January 11, the Active8 program will provide you with tips on how to reach your health goals by moving more and eating better.
Tips for eliminating tobacco
- If you currently do not smoke—don’t start! You can also reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke by giving your business to smoke-free dining and entertainment establishments in your area of the state.
- If you do smoke and are ready to stop, call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The Quitline is a free phone-based counseling service that offers one-on-one coaching for tobacco users who have decided to quit, as well as support for family and friends who want to help their loved ones stop smoking.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about additional options to help you quit smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapy.
Tips for managing stress more effectively
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques.
- Exercise regularly and eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.
- Seek out support when you need help.