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Do something good for your heart

By Capt. Lorna A. Blodgett 2nd Medical Group

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For all that your heart does for you, isn't it time you did a few nice things for it? It's really not so hard. Here are some things you can do that will make your heart happy:

· Move more - walk your dog (or your kids!), wash the car, get up during commercials and do a few squats, jumping jacks or sit-ups, ride your bike to the corner store or take the stairs. Start increasing your activity slowly, adding a few minutes each day until you reach 30 minutes at least five times a week. Remember, it doesn't have to happen all at once. Ten minutes here and 20 minutes there add up quickly.

· Lower fat intake - reduce your milk fat by 1 percent at a time, skip the extra cheese on your pizza, use olive oil instead of butter, use only half the yolks when you make scrambled eggs or egg salad, eat leaner meats like chicken and fish more often, read food labels, it's an eye-opener.

· Reduce salt intake - this may help lower your blood pressure and ease the workload on your heart. Processed foods contain huge amounts of sodium or salt, so read labels carefully and eat unprocessed foods as often as possible. Remember, fresh is best!

· Shop the outer perimeter of the grocery store - this is where you will find fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, meats, whole grain breads and dairy products. Processed foods are more often found on the inner aisles of the store.

Your heart asks very little of you for the tremendous work it does each day. These small changes can make a world of difference to your heart and keep you healthy, active and enjoying life a lot longer. Start today!

For more information, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/