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Clifton: 4 simple ways to prevent heart disease

Are you suffering from heart disease or know someone who is? Well, here are some ways to prevent heart disease and help you to become healthy:

  1. Become More Physically Active:As people age, they become less physically active. The fact that their diet and nutrition start to plummet only magnifies their lack of physical activity and increases their risk for heart disease.  If you have become out of shape, here are a few tips to help you ease your way back to a more active lifestyle:
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park further away from your destination to increase your walking distance.
  • Get off the bus, subway, train or taxi a few blocks away from your destination, and walk the rest of the way.
  • Do your own housework, cleaning or gardening instead of hiring a professional service.
  • Try standing and even pacing about when you take a phone call.

When you are ready to step up your physical activity, consider some of these suggestions:

  • Jog with the dog instead of just walking the dog.
  • Join a sports and recreation league on the weekend, or start one at work.
  • When traveling, if your hotel does not have a fitness center, invest in a jump rope and some resistance bands for exercising in your room.
  • Exercise while watching TV instead of just sitting there.
  1. Reduce Your Stress: If stress is one of the risk factors for heart disease that you suffer from, try some of these relaxation techniques.
  • Meditate: This does not just mean sitting on the floor with your eyes closed. When you meditate, you want to clear your mind.  This can be done anywhere and can even be in the form of an activity with repetitive actions.  Swimming, painting, gardening and fishing are examples of activities they can be used for meditating.
  • Deep breath:Literally take a step back, and breathe deeply during a stressful situation.
  • Set aside time for yourself: It is easy to neglect some needed time for yourself if you are bombarded by work and family life. Set up a time in the day for just yourself, and try to stick to it no matter what.
  • Music: If you plan on listening to music to relieve stress, do not just listen to just any music. You obviously want to avoid loud music or angry music, which might have the opposite effect.  Try soothing instrumental music with a slow tempo to help you relieve stress.
  1. Kick the habit: Studies show that people who smoke have twice the risk of heart attacks than nonsmokers. Giving up smoking (or never starting to smoke at all) is seemingly one of the easiest ways to prevent heart disease.
  • Set a date for when you want to quit, and ask for support from friends and family to help you meet the deadline.
  • Speak to your physician, and seek professional help and support for kicking the habit.
  • Slowly wean down your nicotine, and try nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Join a support group.
  1. Foods to prevent heart disease:Changing your diet and finding foods to prevent heart disease can also eliminate the following risk factors:
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels

Here is a list of foods (with serving size) that can help prevent heart disease:

  • Fish – 3 ounces
  • Poultry – 3 ounces
  • Lean meat – 4 ounces raw, 3 ounces cooked
  • Fruits – 1 cup
  • Whole grains – 1 cup
  • Red wine – 5 ounces

Cynthia Clifton is the general nutrition agent for the St. John the Baptist Parish extension office of the LSU Ag Center. She can be reached at cclifton@agcenter.lsu.edu.