Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 3:05 pm | Fair 68º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

This Valentine’s Day, Do Something Good for Your Heart

Taking even one of these small steps can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It kills more than 700,000 people each year — more deaths than from all forms of cancer combined. It affects both men and women of all racial and ethnic groups.

But take heart! The good news is that there are many things you can do to greatly reduce your risk of heart disease. Taking just one of the following steps will start you on the journey to better health.

Get Moving

Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduces stress and improves your overall health. Lack of activity can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Take one step to increase your physical activity: Just 30 minutes a day makes a difference. Go for a walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, ride a bike and get an exercise buddy.

Quit Smoking

Smokers are twice as likely to die from a heart attack than non-smokers. If you quit right now, your body can repair much of the damage from cigarettes within a year.

Take one step to quit smoking: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about trying a nicotine gum, patch or lozenge to reduce cravings. There are also medications that can help. Then try quitting with a friend, family member or smoking cessation group.

Lose Weight

Extra body weight can contribute to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Even moderate weight loss can improve your health.

Take one step to lose weight: Eat fewer fast and processed foods, reduce your soda intake and use smaller portions.

Eat Smart

Eating foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat can contribute to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.

Take one step to eat smart: Foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, have been proven to help lower the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood.

Know Your Numbers

You may have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar and not know it. These “silent” symptoms can lead to heart disease and heart attack.

Take one step to know your numbers: Go to your health clinic, HMO, doctor or pharmacy to get your levels checked. Controlling these numbers can significantly decrease your risk of heart disease.

The branches of the Channel Islands YMCA offer a variety of exercise and nutrition classes for all ages. Click here or contact your local branch for more detailed information.

» Camarillo Family YMCA, 3111 Village at the Park Drive, 805.484.0423

» Lompoc Family YMCA, 201 West College Ave., 805.736.3483

» Montecito Family YMCA, 591 Santa Rosa Lane, 805.969.3288

» Santa Barbara Family YMCA, 36 Hitchcock Way, 805.687.7727

» Stuart C. Gildred YMCA, 900 N. Refugio Road in Santa Ynez, 805.686.2037

» Ventura Family YMCA, 3760 Telegraph Road, 805.642.2131

— Lynnette Ferrari is the Activate America coordinator for the Channel Islands YMCA.

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