Live to the Beat | Take Small Steps
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Heart Topics

Your Heart Health, Your Way

It’s your heart, and it’s in your hands. It’s not too late to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke — and you can start today.

Why heart health?

Your heart is at the, well… heart of everything you do. It works hard getting your body all the blood and oxygen it needs. And when your heart is stressed, it affects your whole body.

When we talk about heart health, we’re talking about how healthy your heart muscle is — and how well your veins and arteries can carry blood to and from your heart and other important organs. It’s your heart and your circulation.

If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, those blood vessels can become stiff or blocked. And that can slow — or even stop — blood flow:

  • A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked
  • A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked

The blockages that lead to heart attack and stroke can happen suddenly — or over time. The good news? There are things you can do today to lower your risk.

Why now?

Because you can. There are things you can do — like quitting smoking or getting active for just a few minutes — that will make a difference right away. Small changes really do add up over time, so your heart can power the rest of you to keep doing what you love.

When you think about it that way, the question is really why not start today?

Time for a change of heart (age)

Lots of people have a “heart age” that’s older than their actual age. But did you know your heart can age backwards?

That’s right, if you take steps to improve your heart health now, your heart age can actually get younger. And that lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Take charge of your heart health

Your heart-health journey starts with you. You’re the boss, and you can move to your own beat! Remember, it doesn’t have to be a big change — small steps, like getting active and eating more fruits and vegetables will get you where you want to go. To get started:

  • Take a first step — any first step! Start somewhere and keep at it. Set a specific, realistic goal for yourself — something you know you can do. Before you know it, you’ll be onto the next one, and seeing that progress will help you keep going!
  • Work it into your daily routine. Focusing on your heart health doesn’t have to be a time drain. You can find ways to make small changes in your day-to-day life.
  • Tell a friend. Don’t keep it to yourself! Talk about your focus on heart health and ask for whatever support you need along the way. It may even encourage others to join you in making small steps toward heart-healthy living.
  • Track your progress. Once you’ve set a goal (like fitting more physical activity into your busy week), track your progress! That way, you can look back on all your hard work and celebrate. Focus on the changes that mean the most to you, then celebrate your wins — you’ve earned it!

Set yourself up for success

It’s possible to have a healthier - and younger - heart! Here are some tips to help you find your rhythm and stick with it.

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Get clear on your motivation

This journey is all about you. There’s no 1 right way to do it. It’s about what you need and what you want. The best first step is figuring out what’s driving you to have a healthier heart — finding what’s going to keep you motivated.

Maybe you already know it. It could be:

  • Being around for your family for many years to come
  • Feeling your best each day
  • Setting an example for the people you love
You choose where to start

Once you know your main motivation — your “why” — think about where you want to start. You don’t have to tackle it all at once. Just choose your first small step — is it switching up what you eat or getting more active? Is it going for a checkup to see what your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are? Find the rhythm that works for you!

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Set a goal

There’s no such thing as a perfect goal, but you can make one that’s perfect for you. As you think about your heart-health goals, take a beat and ask yourself:

  • Is it specific? Focus on 1 way you can improve your heart health by choosing something seemingly “small” and super specific.
  • Is it realistic? Hey, life happens. Build in space for all that life throws at you so you don’t get off track.
  • When will you reach it? Set a date for when you’d like to meet your goal by. And then get ready to make another!

Use this Small Steps Tracker to get started – you can print it out and put it in a place where you’ll see it every day (like your fridge, a mirror, etc.). You can select two goals to start and track them over the course of a week.

Here are a few examples:
  • I’ll walk for 30 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the next month
  • I’ll try 2 new healthy recipes for dinner next week
  • I’ll call to schedule a heart-health checkup by the end of the month
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Stay motivated

Words have power, especially when we repeat them to ourselves to keep us focused. When we know a phrase by heart, we can pull it out as a powerful reminder whenever we need it.

You won’t always feel pumped about reversing your heart age. You’ll have ups and downs. Use one of these mantras when you need to dig deep to stay focused — or come up with your own.

  • I am strong, I am powerful
  • This is tough but I’m tougher
  • I’m taking control of my heart, my way

Put your mantra on your fridge, on your door, or put it in your phone as a daily reminder.