Prevent heart disease with simple steps



Column by Jill Kindy. E-mail Think it will never happen to you?  

You’re in your teens or twenties; heart disease is something your dad has.

I can’t tell you how many students end up in my office, shocked by the fact that they have high cholesterol or high blood pressure or both.

The best way to avoid this fate is to prevent it.

Even if you don’t have high triglycerides by the time you graduate, it’s much easier to change your behaviors now, than when you are older.

The easiest ways to protect your heart are to exercise, eat healthy, ease stress and don’t smoke.

You don’t have to run marathons to protect your heart – just get moving enough to get your heart rate up.

When you exercise, you should be able to carry on a conversation, but be somewhat breathless. Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 4 to 5 days per week.

It really doesn’t matter what you do; just get moving!  Dance around the room, play hacky-sack, go for a walk, learn to ballroom dance, or head to the Johnson Center for a spin class or pick-up basketball.

You don’t have to do all activity in one session, either.  It can be broken up into 10 minutes segments, like taking the longer route to class or taking a short walk for a quick study break.

You know you should eat right, but you may not be sure what that means.

Many times, professionals talk about what you have to eliminate from your diet, but here are some foods that you can add to your diet:  high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, heart healthy fats like nuts, olive oil, flaxseed, avocado and omega-3 fatty acids like those found in salmon and trout.

Of course, it’s still important to limit the burgers, fries, chicken wings and sodas.

Maintaining a healthy weight will help prevent many diseases, including heart disease.

Remember to watch your portion sizes – it’s good to leave the table feeling satisfied rather than stuffed.