As Valentines Day approaches, it’s important to remember that February is also American Heart Month. We wanted to share these recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) for a healthy diet and lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart disease.
The AHA offers the following guidelines for simplifying healthy eating:
- Use up as many calories as you take in.
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups: fruits/vegetables, lean protein, nuts, whole grains, lower-fat dairy products.
- Eat less nutrient-poor foods. Simply put: avoid junk food.
- Cut back on added sugars.
- Keep an eye on portion size.
- The AHA’s Heart-Check mark on certain products in your grocery store shows you which foods have been certified to meet the AHA nutrition requirements. It’s a good first step in creating an overall sensible eating plan.
Our Koko Fuel plan was based on nutritious, whole foods that meet these requirements. We encourage our members to review their Fuel plan online and try 14 days of healthy, individualized nutrition this month.
According to the AHA, “Strength and resistance training exercise is one of the four types of exercise along with endurance, balance and flexibility. Ideally, all four types of exercise would be included in a healthy workout routine.” The American Heart Association recommends strength training at least twice per week. “Strengthening your muscles gives you the ability to perform everyday activities and helps protect your body from injury. Stronger muscles also lead to a boost in your metabolic rate, which means you’ll burn more calories even when your body is at rest.”
It is well documented that stress can contribute to all sorts of health issues, especially heart disease. Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress. Here are10 positive healthy habits from the AHA you may want to develop to manage stress:
- Talk with family and friends. A daily dose of friendship is great medicine.
- Engage in daily physical activity to relieve mental and physical tension.
- Embrace what you can change. You are never too old to learn or do something new.
- Remember to laugh. Laughter makes us feel good. Don’t be afraid to LOL.
- Give up bad habits that increase blood pressure: alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, etc.
- Slow down. Try to “pace” instead of “race.”
- Get enough sleep. Aim for six to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Get organized. Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks.
- Practice giving back. Volunteer, or help a friend. Helping others helps you.
- Worry less. The world won’t end if your kitchen isn’t cleaned.
The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight go far beyond improved energy and smaller clothing sizes. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you are also likely to enjoy better sleep, less pain, lower your cholesterol and — most importantly — reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Fortunately, Koko FitClub builds individualized fitness and nutrition plans for each and every member, so that no matter what your age, ability or goal, we can help you with all of the above. During American Heart Month, we want to remind everyone that a healthy lifestyle can be fun and simple, and easy to get started today.
– Michael Wood, CSCS, Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub, LLC
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About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.