In A Heartbeat

The average heart beats about 100,000 times a day, or more than 36 million times per year. But if you don’t take care of this remarkable, natural pump, it can’t take care of you. Fortunately, you may be surprised how quickly you can give your heart a helping hand—in fact, the following 11 actions can make a difference almost immediately. We’ve rated them based on the amount of time and effort each might take on a scale of 1 to 10 heartbeats (1 being quickest), but all are well worth the effort. Even if you haven’t been doing right by your heart, it’s never too late to start.
Measure up
Being overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease, and extra weight around the abdomen is usually of greatest concern. A woman’s waist circumference should be no more than 34 inches, a man’s no greater than 40 inches. If your waist measurement exceeds those guidelines, it’s time to start a weight-loss program—but first, simply get out your tape measure and find out where you stand.
Time commitment: 1
Don’t supersize
How much you eat is almost as important as what you eat. For example, a healthy serving of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of a deck of cards. A reasonably sized potato? Think computer mouse. What’s more, most Americans eat their smallest meal in the morning and the largest at night. Try doing the opposite, so you can burn off your biggest meal with more activity throughout the day.
Time commitment: 2
Go fish
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings a week of fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, which clinical studies have linked to a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease. Salmon, albacore tuna, lake trout, mackerel and herring are all high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Time commitment: 4
Don’t skip meals
One of the best ways to maintain or lose weight is to eat five to six smaller meals a day—and not miss meals. If you only eat once a day, between meals your body thinks it’s being starved, so it will absorb more calories and hold on to them more tightly once you do eat. For heart healthy recipes, visit pintrest.com/gwinnettmedical.
Time commitment: 4
Pile on the fruits and veggies
 A 2001 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that diets rich in fruits and vegetables help prevent heart disease, especially green leafy vegetables and fruits and vegetables containing high amounts of vitamin C.
Time commitment: 5
Attend a screening
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are known risk factors for heart disease. Get screened for these and other conditions as recommended by your doctor— especially if you have a family history of heart disease, which puts you at greater risk.
Time commitment: 7
Face facts about fats
Limit trans fats—found in foods such as vegetable shortenings, cookies and snack foods—to less than 1 percent of your daily caloric intake. Also, avoid fats that come in solid form in the dairy case, such as margarine or shortening; opt instead for monounsaturated fats, including olive oil, canola oil or sesame oil. Limit foods high in saturated fat—such as pork, beef and traditional dairy products—to 7 percent of your daily caloric intake.
Time commitment: 7
Make smart substitutions
Prepare food in the healthiest manner possible. With any type of meat you’re cooking, grilling is better than baking, which is better than frying. Other clever cooking replacements include using low-fat or fat-free milk instead of whole milk and two egg whites instead of one egg in recipes.
Time commitment: 8
Get moving 
Find a physical activity you enjoy and can stick with—or better yet, come up with a variety of things you like to do to avoid boredom burnout. Whatever exercise you choose, aim for 30 minutes a day most days of the week for maximum cardiovascular benefits; move briskly enough to raise your heart rate for a sustained time. GMC offers various fitness classes including cardio dance, yoga, pilates and more. Call 678-312-5000 to register, click here and search for fitness classes to learn more.
Time commitment: 8
Kick the habit (or don’t start)
Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease, says the American Heart Association. Quitting isn’t easy, but various smoking cessation programs and support tools are available—for example, check out GMC's smoking cessation course. Call 678-312-5000 ask about the Freshstart Smoking Cessation course or click here to learn more.
Time commitment: 9
Take a ‘you’ break
To manage stress, set aside one hour a day for yourself. Do whatever you enjoy recommends. What matters most is that it’s your time, when you can put aside the sources of stress in your life.
Time commitment: 10

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