Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!

January 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm

February is American Heart Month and a perfect time to quick start a plan for preventing and conquering heart disease. Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life! offers ways to help you begin a healthy heart plan in 10 minutes a day. This recently published book assists you in creating a lifelong program, guides you to modify that program if you have existing heart problems, and teaches you how to stay on track for life.

 Heart disease is the leading cause of death and major cause of disability in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life! teaches that 80 percent of heart disease is preventable and taking those life-changing steps may be easier than you think.

Find your inner motivation to help you improve your chances for success. Pick a start date and then celebrate the first step on your path to a healthier heart. The quick start program welcomes you with Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8 and only lasts two weeks. The program is not complicated or competitive. Eat 5 servings of vegetables and fruits a day, Move 10 minutes more, and Sleep 8 hours each night.

Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life! suggests tips for how to achieve these three daily goals. For Eat 5, toss some vegetables in your soup or add tomato and lettuce to a sandwich. Many people don’t come close to the recommended 30 minutes of daily activity, so Move 10 minutes every day by walking around during phone calls and standing after every 30 minutes when using your computer. Sleep 8 encourages you to get 8 hours of sleep every night as a general guideline, but shows you how to find your “slumber number.”

In Part 2 you learn the 10 Steps to Heart Health with each step described in a separate chapter. These steps include eating healthy, being more active, how to sleep well, medications, setting targets, dealing with smoking and weight, emergencies, medications, family history, and enjoying life. At the end of 10 weeks, you can chart your course for a heart-healthy future.

In the section on eating healthy, you learn about variety, balance and moderation. Even if you eat healthy food, consuming too much still creates too many calories so learn about plates and portions. Use a smaller plate or bowl and fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit. A vegetable serving is about the size of a baseball, for example, and a protein/dairy serving is the size of a deck of cards.

Be active. Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life! points out that recent studies have shown that sitting for most of the day increases your risk of heart disease to a degree similar to that of smoking.

Find ways to turn 10 minutes that you normally sit into active time. Stand to read the morning paper, use a height-adjustable desk so you can work while standing, and break activity into small sessions. Three 10-minute sessions offer similar benefits to one 30-minute session. Even if you’re exercising consistently, make sure you remain active throughout your entire day. Add interval training to increase your cardiovascular fitness and burn more fat. Strength training improves your physique, but also helps prevent injuries and osteoporosis.

Sleep well. Set a bedtime and stick to it for a week, including the weekend. Find relaxing things to do in the evening and use them to create a bedtime routine which includes turning off all electronic devices about an hour before bedtime. Learn your slumber number by trying to wake up spontaneously without an alarm clock. Keep going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier until you can achieve this goal.

 If you need a motivator, remind yourself that getting adequate sleep can help you lose weight. Lack of sleep stimulates your body to produce hormones that make you feel hungry, and compounds with your body producing less of the substances that break down fat. Also if you’re tired, you’re less active.

Enjoy life. While you’re creating your heart healthy plan, discover what brings you joy and satisfaction. Take 15 to 30 minutes to do something you enjoy each day, but even 5 minutes is rejuvenating. Listen to music, work on a hobby, read, volunteer, and stay in touch with friends. Relaxation can boost heart heath in a variety of ways such as decreasing the stress load placed on the heart by curbing the fight-or-flight response. Meaningful relationships and cultivating spirituality can bring you inner peace and a sense of purpose – which may help you feel better and less stressed.

Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life! helps you chart a course for your future. It describes how your heart works and about heart disease. It offers easy-to-understand illustrations about what can go wrong, such as atherosclerosis, clots, blockages, high blood pressure, heart failure, coronary artery disease, heart value disorders, vascular disorders and congenital heart disease. Each section clearly explains diagnosis, symptoms and treatment. You’ll find real-life stories about people dealing with heart disease with a specialist focus to educate you on key points.

After you explore the basics, you are provided with additional support for your healthy heart plan. You learn about common diagnostic tests, how to overcome eating obstacles, including easy, 10-minute meal ideas, diet strategies, adapting recipes, and how to eat healthy on busy days. Plan strategies for overcoming activity obstacles, find a healthy weight and learn how to monitor your mental health.

Complementary and alternative medicine can offer real benefits in controlling heart disease. Mind-body approaches, such as tai chi, qi gong, yoga, listening to music, and meditation may help you counteract stress and promote relaxation. They also show promise in managing high blood pressure. The section also describes common herbal and dietary supplements, food as medicine, biofeedback and acupuncture.

Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life! provides tools, in-depth information and strategies to construct a lifelong program that works for you to prevent and conquer heart disease.

Debbie Fuehrer
Mind Body Medicine

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