A Healthier Heart, a Healthier You

By Erica Cardenas

When I walked into the Halle Heart Children’s Museum this month to tape the newest episode of Your Health, I immediately knew it was going to be a fun and purposeful experience sharing why the museum does what it does. From the giant lit up heart display to the awesome interactive movement stations throughout, I could see the museum truly has a genuine and heartfelt (no pun intended) interest to help families be the best they can be. And as a community, that’s something we should all be talking more about, right? So kudos to what you’re doing in, and for our community, Halle Heart! As the only cardiovascular learning facility in the nation, you’re blazing a trail and making a difference in the lives of so many.

This month’s episode of Your Health focuses on heart health, and features various exhibits at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum including this ‘Follow Your Heart’ exhibit.

Sadly, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women here in the U.S. That’s a mind-blowing stat. The great news is that there are a variety of things you can do, at any age, to prevent heart disease. A conversation absolutely worth having.

Let’s get started.

Taste the Rainbow – it’s Delicious!

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables on the daily can help control your weight and blood pressure. Safe to say that many of us know that, right? Well, when it comes to deciding what to put on your plate at each meal (and even snacks)…think color! When you break it down, many fruits and veggies cost less than $1 per serving and buying produce in bulk, and even freezing some of them, can be big cost-savings, too. The Cardenas family likes to make bi-weekly trips to Costco to buy our produce in bulk, and I also like to keep my eyes open for the deals and specials at various grocery chains and farmers markets.

It’s become a mission of mine lately to see how colorful I can make the contents in my shopping cart. Strange? Perhaps. 😉 But taking pictures of what’s in my cart ( like the one above) keeps me accountable…because what goes in your cart, goes in your mouth! 🙂

The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and veggies in order to meet the recommended per day serving of 4 ½ cups. The good news is that all produce counts (not just fresh) which includes canned and frozen varieties, so don’t be afraid to fuel up on those as well.

Small Steps, Huge Strides

Staying physically fit and active also makes for a happy, healthy heart. I’ve learned to carve out time in my schedule every day for some sort of physical activity. It may not always be easy, but I know it’s well worth it. And don’t be afraid to mix it up! Whether it be the gym, a walk or hike, or even perhaps a workout app on your phone, according to heart health studies – adding in at least 22 minutes of activity to each day makes a big difference in your overall heart health.

Here’s a super fun infographic, provided by the American Heart Association, that will remind you every step, and move, counts!

Make Every Move Count Infographic (Credit: American Heart Association)

Self-Care for the Win

Various heart health studies have also shown that if you’re often stressed, and don’t have healthy ways to manage it, you’re more likely to get high blood pressure and heart disease. As a wife, mom and busy professional who’s constantly juggling a full plate, I know far too well what it is to put my own needs aside to meet the demands of daily life. But I also know (through lessons learned) that making time for yourself is completely necessary. Taking a walk, meditation, journaling or enjoying a favorite hobby are just a few of the many things you can do to take time for you.

And above all, be kind to yourself. Don’t forget to acknowledge yourself and how far you’ve come. Because, you’re worth it.

Stay healthy, my friends!

Erica Cardenas (@ericacardenas1)