Manage Your Exercise, Diet, Stress
Photo by Tony Tribble
This story originally appeared in the Sunday, February 12, 2017 issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
These days, new fad diets and trendy workout gear seem to be the popular ways of presenting the appearance of living a healthy lifestyle. Sadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the No. 1 killer in America remains heart disease, which makes adopting true healthy lifestyle changes a key component to improving and potentially saving your life or that of someone you love.
With nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population expected to have cardiovascular disease by 2020, our nation is at a crossroads, says Dr. Asimul Ansari of the TriHealth Heart Institute. "We have this huge population at risk and we have to find the higher-risk people so we can stave off a cardiac event, like a heart attack."
Dr. Ansari says preventing heart disease and other cardiac issues takes a cultural shift toward a healthier society; however, there are lifestyle changes each person can start making now.
No. 1: Exercise
Dr. Marshall Winner: "I like to run in Ault Park. It's one of the most beautiful places in Cincinnati to exercise and enjoy life."
Dr. Winner enjoys the opportunity to practice what he preaches to patients daily by taking to the trails in Ault Park to enjoy an afternoon run through some of the city's best nature trails and gardens.
"Everyone, particularly those with risk factors for heart disease, should take time to exercise. Most people make the excuse that they don't have time to visit the gym or complain about expense," he says.
"The reality is, nothing is stopping anyone from making this lifestyle change. Sometimes getting started is as simple as going outside and taking that first step to lean in for a run."
Guidelines vary by health status, but if you're healthy overall, you should be able to safely exercise five or six days a week, at a moderately intense level for 20 to 30 minutes. Talk to your doctor about how much - and what kind of - activity is safe for you.
Photo by Tony Tribble
No. 2: Diet - Quantity and Quality
Dr. Gaurang Gandhi: "My favorite hangout is our home kitchen. It's a time when we as a family bond together and in the process my wife and I are able to impart healthy eating habits to our children."
Most days of the week, doctors Gaurang and Neha Gandhi make it a point to come together to prepare a healthy meal with their children.
"In our home, time spent cooking together in the kitchen is not considered a chore. Cooking should be part of healthy living. It should be your mission to cook food low in fat and high in nutritional value," he says. "We have fun cooking as a family with my wife as the head chef, teaching the children about nutritional value, calorie intake and portion control while helping them develop skills to prepare a healthy meal."
As you make plans to incorporate more family meals at home into your healthy lifestyle plan, it might be helpful to keep a log of the foods you are currently eating, along with quantity and then take it to your doctor, who can make recommendations based on your current weight and activity level.
As a tip for getting started, when it comes to what you should be eating, you can't go wrong with a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fish and healthy oils. This type of diet has as much effect, potentially, as a taking a cholesterol medication.
No. 3: Keep stress in check
Chronic stress often leads to other unhealthy behaviors, like eating a poor diet, not getting enough sleep, and skipping exercise, which can spiral into heart problems over time.
Stress can also have a direct impact on your heart by raising blood pressure, causing inflammation and increasing cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
- Related: 5 Simple Stress Relief Strategies
Additionally, extreme stress can make your heart beat out of rhythm. Make time each day for stress reducing activities that include:
- Practicing yoga or meditation
- Spending time outdoors in nature
- Getting regular exercise
- Spending time with friends
- Escaping with a movie or a book