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Cardiac Rehab

Tips to Stay Heart Healthy

With February being Heart Health Awareness month, we wanted to take some time to share with you ways to maintain your heart health, tips for improving your heart health and guidelines for regaining your heart health after a cardiac event. At John Knox Village East and Meyer Care Center, we have highly trained and certified therapists who help people bounce back from a cardiac event by educating and training patients on a lifestyle plan to support    future heart health.

As the old saying goes, it’s easier to keep up than catch up, and that holds true for your heart health as well.   It’s much easier to maintain your heart health than it is to recapture it after it deteriorates.  Some tips for keeping your heart healthy are:  eat healthy, get plenty of exercise, maintain a healthy weight, manage your stress and don’t smoke.

As we age, it can become more difficult to adhere to some of the guidelines for staying heart healthy. Let’s face it, eating healthy can require more effort and expense than some unhealthy options.  Eating healthy requires thoughtful shopping, preparation and effort.  Many times as we age and are sometimes cooking for only ourselves, we become less diligent about cooking healthy meal options than we once were when we were cooking for our children and famalies.  As the normal aches and pains of getting older set in, it can be more of a challenge to exercise.  Both of these challenges can add to the difficulties of managing weight and stress.

The American Heart Association recommends that we use up at least as many calories as we intake to help maintain a healthy weight. They also recommend a well-balanced diet full of healthy choices such as:  a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils.  They also recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise.  Thirty minutes a day five times a week is a good goal to remember.

Improving your heart health possesses its own unique set of challenges. Many times, when folks are no longer healthy, the biggest challenge is to simply start.  If you have several pounds to lose or bad habits like smoking to stop, the mountain can seem insurmountable.  In this case, the simplest solution is often the best…..just do something, anything.  Set goals for yourself and then increase them as your health improves.  Maybe you can’t completely adopt a healthy diet all at once, but you can cut out one unhealthy item a week until your diet is healthier.  Perhaps in the first week, you give up potato chips.  The second week, you give up sweets. And, you just keep going until you’re meeting the guidelines set forth by the American Heart Association (AHA).  The same goes for exercise.  Maybe it’s too big of a challenge to exercise 30 minutes a day 5 times a week; so, you start out at 5 minutes a day 5 times a week and increase it from there until you’re at the recommended levels.

Sometimes, even if we’ve been diligent about maintaining our heart health or we’ve taken steps to improve our heart health, we experience a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, heart failure or bypass surgery. These cardiac events can happen to people due to poor health or a genetic predisposition to heart disease.  After experiencing one of these events, people need to rehab to improve their heart health.  Cardiac rehab doesn’t change what’s happened to you in the past, but it helps you have a better future.  In rehab patients receive counseling and education on healthy eating, exercise and ways to reduce stress.  Cardiac rehab is a team effort involving your doctors, family members and others who help create a healthy plan for your heart and a lifestyle that supports the continued improvement of your heart health.

At John Knox Village East and Meyer Care Center, we have highly trained and certified therapists who help people bounce back from a cardiac event by educating and training patients on a lifestyle plan to support future heart health.  We also educate and train residents on ways of eating healthy and maintaining physical activity to improve and maintain their heart health.

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