5 Ways to Celebrate American Heart Month

Dianna Malkowski

by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist

February is American Heart Month, and people of all ages and levels of mobility can take steps toward better heart health.

Heart health is integral to quality of life at any age. It’s an important cause for us here at The CareGiver Partnership. Heart-related illnesses and medications can contribute to incontinence because of several factors, such as fluid buildup, reduced mobility and drug side effects.

Exercise is one step toward better heart health. Any exercise can be part of a fitness routine, including gardening, dancing, walking and using light hand weights while watching TV. Activities that get your heart and blood circulation moving, make you feel stronger and keep you flexible can be good choices.

Here are five easy ways people of any age and mobility can start moving toward better heart health:

1. Choosing enjoyable activities.  Incorporating fun activities, changing them up for variety and asking friends to join can make exercise enjoyable. Exercise classes may be found at senior centers, churches, health clubs, and park and recreation departments. For more information on beginning a walking program, visit the American Heart Association’s Start Walking Now page.

2. Setting reasonable goals. After getting a doctor’s permission to begin an exercise program, it can be helpful to set short- and long-term goals. Goals will depend on activity levels, but an example for a sedentary senior might be to build to 30 minutes of activity three times per week, with a long-term goal of five times a week.

3. Making exercise part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Simple steps toward better heart health include following a nutritious diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium; maintaining a healthy weight; monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels; avoiding smoking; limiting alcohol use; managing diabetes; and taking medications as prescribed.

4. Putting safety first. Tips for avoiding injury include wearing comfortable, flat shoes and loose clothing, paying attention to weather conditions and slippery surfaces outdoors, and staying alert and aware of other people and traffic.

5. Celebrating acheivements. Keeping an activity journal is an easy way to track progress and celebrate success. Rewards for meeting goals might include a new fitness gadget, a healthy cookbook or a relaxing pedicure to welcome summer.

Dianna Malkowski is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisers for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike. Ask Dianna a question.


Post a Comment