By: Anna Munzenmaier. SPARC Fitness Specialist and Sports Performance Coach

So February is over, and you’re probably tired of all the talk of love in the air and the endless pictures of hearts everywhere. Nevertheless, it is a great time to think about our ticker and its healthcare. This little snippet serves to help you take steps toward strengthening the muscle that keeps things pumping!

  1. Exercise Regularly– Just like your biceps or quadriceps, your heart is a muscle that needs to be worked consistently in order to stay fit and strong. It is recommended that everyone get at LEAST 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. This can include anything from brisk walking to running or even stair climbing. Try to aim for 30 minutes 5 days per week. The 30 minutes can even be broken up into ten minute increments per day! If you seem to have no time to get structured exercise, think about ways to incorporate heart pumping movements into your day! Climbing stairs once every hour at work, parking as far away as possible at the grocery store, or dancing while you cook and clean are a few ways to get in some extra beats!
  2. Eat your fruits and vegetables– Try to make half of your plate COLORFUL fruits and vegetables at each eating opportunity throughout the day. The more color the better! Each color provides certain nutrients and antioxidants that ward off the damage that occurs to our bodies that we may not even know about. Fight back with bright colors. The more vibrantly colored your food, the more health benefits you will receive. Some helpful tips for incorporating these healthy foods include eating salsa with your eggs, keeping a piece of fruit at your desk when hunger hits you between meals, eating a small salad or vegetable filled soup with your lunch, turning your late night dessert into an opportunity to eat fruit!a-colorful-food-8
  3. Get creative with your Carbohydrate choices– Make sure that your grain or bread choices are 100% whole grain. Also add starchy carbohydrates such as roasted sweet potatoes, acorn squash, Quinoa, homemade oatmeal, hummus, black beans scrambled into eggs or a salad, or lentils added to soup or a chili recipe. These carbohydrates provide antioxidants and fiber that keep things running efficiently and smoothly!
  4. Take an omega-3 supplement– Adding salmon, sardines, or herring to your diet has been shown to reduce the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, or stroke. If you do not like fish or cannot seem to fit it into your diet at least once a week, try a molecularly distilled emega-3 fish oil supplement.
  5. Prioritize your proteins– Eating fish and chicken is an excellent idea to help you get the protein you need! These types of proteins tend to be less dangerous for your heart. Choosing omega-3 whole eggs and whipping them up with some egg whites is another way to get more protein without having too much cholesterol in your diet. Limit the amounts of red meat you consume to one palm-sized portion per week. These meats include beef, lamb, and pork. This tip should not be taken lightly due to the fact that red meats carry the highest risk of heart disease, cancer, and mortality relative to other types of meats.