1. The 3 S's - Sleep, Stress and Smoking. Don't smoke, don't stress and get plenty of sleep. Smoking can increase your risk of coronary heart disease, decrease your levels of HDLs and adds unneeded oxidative stress to the body. Stress can increase our blood pressure; it can cause us to get less sleep along with increasing out alcohol intake, so that we have a way to relax at night. Sleep is the time when our bodies are allowed to repair, grow and relax. Poor sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. To help you get the right amount of sleep try these little lifestyle changes - exercise, eat a light and healthy snack several hours before bed, keep a normal bedtime routine (even on weekends) and make sure your bedroom is dark.
2. Food and Weight - food is our first medicine; we should be using it to nourish ourselves rather than just feeding ourselves. The food we put into our bodies needs to be free of chemicals, pesticides, processed and refined items. We all should be eating a whole foods based diet, eating more colors of fruits and veggies within our diets. Excess weight, especially around the abdomen can increase risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. If you are concerned about your weight talk with your doctor about your weight loss options.
3. Exercise - we all used to have daily exercise with Physical Education in school, but once we get into the working world PE goes away. It is vital to our health and especially our heart health to get regular exercise every day. The American Heart Association recommends that we get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. The body does well with switching things up when it comes to exercise. One day of doing the elliptical machine, another day of running, followed by a day of doing weights. My new favorite exercise program is EA Active 2 for gaming systems. The game has a personal trainer and has a 9 week program set up for you to follow.
4. Numbers - Blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid, blood chemistry and count. Our body, like our car needs to have maintenance and checks; every 3000 miles we are to get an oil changed in our car, in the same way every year we should get standard blood work done. This blood work allows our doctor to get a glance at how your body is working. The AHA guidelines say that blood pressure should be maintained below 120/80 millimeters of mercury, total cholesterol should be below 200 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) of blood and fasting blood glucose should be below 100 mg/dl of blood. You should know your numbers, if you do not please talk with your doctor to find out where your numbers fall.