Taking steps to improve heart health is simple

February is National Heart Month and a great time to step back and ask yourself; "What am I doing to keep my heart healthy?"

I have written often how important taking care of your heart is and I am passionate about spreading the word.  Feb. 3 was Go Red for Women in which everyone was encouraged to wear red in an effort to raise awareness of heart disease and women. It’s important to understand that men don’t have the monopoly on heart disease. It is just as prevalent in women as well.

Heart disease is a preventable condition and it’s never too late to get it under control. The American Heart Association (AHA) has developed the Simple 7 as a strategy to help you improve your heart health. It’s named the "Simple 7" for a reason, it is an easy plan to execute.

The Simple 7

1. Get active.Getting more physical activity is as easy as walking around the block. You would be amazed how quickly you can become accustomed to taking that daily walk. Physical activity of at least 150 minutes (a little more than 21 minutes of moderate intensity activity per day) or 75 minutes (just shy of 11 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per day) each week is a great start. You’ll soon find that you will want to add more time to your walks.


2.  Control cholesterol.Your total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL. If it is greater than 200 mg/dl, see your physician for help bringing that number down. Treatment can be prescription medication, increasing your physical activity, diet modification, or all of the above.

3. Eat better.Eat foods high in fruits, vegetables, low in saturated fats, and whole grains.

4. Manage blood pressure.Resting blood pressure should be 120/80 mm Hg or lower. High blood pressure can be treated by increasing physical activity, adjusting your diet, or prescription medication.

5. Reduce blood sugar.A fasting blood glucose should be less than 100 mg/dL. Measures over 100 mg/dL could signal type II diabetes. Diabetes is when the body has difficulty making enough insulin to control the blood sugar. Often times type II diabetes is associated with obesity and treatment consisting of weight loss and increased physical activity has been very affective.

6. Lose weight.Maintain a healthy body weight and a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25. The BMI is your body weight in relation to your height. Any measure great than 25, is a flag to drop some pounds.

7. Stop smoking.If you smoke, stop. I you don’t smoke, don’t start. The detrimental effects of smoking are well document. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

It’s as simple as following the above seven steps. The AHA has a great website loaded with great information. They have a My Life Check assessment tool that only takes a few minutes to fill out a questionnaire. It gives you a heart health score along with strategies on how to get started on a heart healthy lifestyle. Go to; for all the great resources.

If you take a look at the Simple 7, you will notice that physical activity is a common remedy. I have written over and over how important regular physical activity can be the magic pill for a great number of health maladies. Get started today for a healthier heart. Do it for you, do it for your loved ones.


Today marks the first day that I am writing this column not as the fitness director at the Rochester Athletic Club, but as the new Sports and Athletic Performance Manager at Olmsted Medical Center. I am excited to join the team at OMC and to help them expand the Sports Medicine department’s brand in Rochester and the surrounding communities. It was a tremendous experience serving as the fitness director at the RAC for over 18 years. I have forged many bonds with members and staff which I will cherish forever. I now look forward to the same experience working at OMC.

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