Download this PDF to get 30 easy-to-follow heart tips!
In February, we gave you a heart tip every day on the blog.
Some of you asked it if would be possible to put all those tips into one easy-to-find location, so we created this heart tip sheet (PDF) that you can print out and put on your refrigerator at home or bulletin board at work.
We hope you find this tip sheet useful, and be sure to keep sending us your ideas!
We hear it all the time: We need exercise. Every single one of us. Exercise can make us healthier, happier, and more productive. It can make our muscles stronger, our waists smaller, our minds clearer and our lives longer.
But despite its obvious and well-documented benefits, sometimes we just don’t want to exercise. Does that give us an excuse to be couch potatoes? Not so much.
The average person needs a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day for maximum benefit. I sat down with Shannon Slovensky, M.Ed., an exercise physiologist with UVA Health System, to talk about fun ways to incorporate physical activity into our days. When exercise is fun, we’re more likely to stick with it and make it a permanent part of our routines.
Move to the Music
Dancing isn’t just for movie stars. Anyone can crank up the music in their living room and get moving. “Dancing is a great way to get the whole family involved,” Slovensky says. “Have the kids make a playlist of about 4-5 upbeat songs, and then dance for about 15 minutes. The idea is to get your heart rate up, which dancing can definitely do.”
Try a Zumba Class
UVA Club Red hosted a free Zumba class in celebration of National Wear Red Day, part of American Heart Month, on Feb. 3.
Zumba and hip-hop dance classes are really popular right now. Not only are these workouts a lot of fun and set to energizing music, but they also benefit the body in ways that some traditional workouts do not. Exercise like walking, running or cardio machines tend to rely on the same muscle groups moving within a limited range of motion repeatedly. With Zumba, and other forms of aerobic dance, the routines consist of multidirectional movements and involve multiple muscle groups, footwork, coordination and balance.
Get Back to the Basics and Walk (your dog wants to come, too)
Walking is one of the easiest and most effective forms of exercise. It’s a great way to build leg strength and cardiovascular endurance, and research shows that walking helps to reduce stress. This is another good one for the whole family to enjoy together.
Grab a Hula Hoop
That’s right, a hula hoop. Hooping is an aerobic exercise that tones your abdominals, increases cardiovascular stamina and strengthens core muscles. It’s been proven that women can burn 200 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping, which is about the amount of calories burned while walking briskly for 30 minutes. And, it’s more fun and a better core workout!
Don’t Let Your Desk Job Stop You
Many of us have sedentary office jobs where we sit at a computer all day. Slovensky recommends standing up at least once every 30 minutes to get your blood flowing and give your body a much-needed stretch. If you want to take it a step further, she recommends this 5-minute workout:
Stand up and stretch your arms over your head like you just woke up in the morning.
Do 15 high-knee lifts, alternating one knee at a time (do 15 on each side, no cheating!) followed by…
15 hamstring curls
15 punch fronts with a slight rotation, like you’re punching a punching bag. Keep a wide stance with your knees slightly bent.
15 desk push-ups (you can put your hands on the wall if you’d prefer)
15 chair squats with overhead reach. Lower your bottom down until it barely touches the seat of your chair, then stand up and reach your arms overhead. Lower your arms and repeat.
15 chair/tricep dips
When you make it through all of these exercises, repeat them one more time.
Circle your shoulders a few times and clasp your hands behind you to open your chest and hold for 15 seconds. Then, back to work!
Slovensky adds, “The main idea is to find something you enjoy, because then you’ll be more likely to do it! If you don’t enjoy exercise, try combining it with something that you DO enjoy, like talking with a friend or listening to music. Exercise doesn’t have to be a formal class at the gym and you don’t need to hire a personal trainer to get in shape. Just make moving fun, and over time you’ll notice a difference in the way you look and feel.”
I was attracted to this recipe for two reasons. First, it stars the humble sweet potato as its primary ingredient. I get teased for the amount of sweet potatoes I eat — comments like “You must be the person keeping the industry going.” But they’re tasty and full of beta carotene, Vitamin C and other things your doctor wants you to eat.
Second, all the ingredients were things I almost always have in my house — basic spices and sugar. And sweet potatoes can be found all year at the grocery store for around 79 cents a pound.
I followed the recipe pretty closely but left the skin on one of the potatoes for added taste and nutrients. I used around a tablespoon of olive oil (the recipe doesn’t specify the amount).
A tip: For a quick, clean way to evenly coat the potatoes, throw the oil, sugar and spices into a gallon-size plastic bag and toss the potatoes around in there.
I was delighted with the results. The potatoes were not only delicious and filling, they infused my house with a wonderful spicy smell that lingered until the next morning.
My only complaint is they didn’t get crispy. I probably should have used more olive oil. Still, they were very tasty.
These took about 15 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake. They’re worth it.
Stars: 5 out 5
Do you have any good sweet potato recipes? Share them with us. I can almost guarantee I’ll try them.
Amy Tucker, MD, talks with Dave Koehn, the voice of the Cavaliers, about fun exercises like Zumba and dancing. Tucker says a few 10-minute spurts of activity each day can make a real difference for your heart.
Listen to find out more: