A Healthier Heart

Feeling confused about all the recommendations for improving your heart health? It may be easier than you thought. There are three simple things Walker Heart Institute providers say you can do to maintain a healthy heart: proper diet, exercise and smoking cessation.


Learn to read food labels for information about a food's nutrient content, including sugar, sodium, fat and fiber. Overall, you should try to eat more fiber, which you can get through vegetables, and eat less processed foods, since they tend to be high in sodium. Some of the most highly processed foods that you may want to avoid include packaged snacks, chips, sandwich meat and microwaveable frozen dinners.


Exercise helps strengthen your heart. It also helps with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all of which can contribute to an unhealthy heart. As an exercise guideline, the American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination of both. If you're just beginning to exercise, start slowly, perhaps with a daily walk around your neighborhood, campus or shopping mall. Even small amounts of physical activity can offer health benefits. If you don't know exactly what to do, simply focus on moving more and sitting less. Consult with your health care provider before starting a new exercise program to determine what type of exercise is best for you.

Smoking Cessation

It's best to never smoke. But if you do, quitting is an effective way to benefit your heart health. Smoking can cause a process that can damage the arteries in your heart and create plaque buildup. That plaque buildup can cause narrowing of the arteries, which can decrease the blood flow to your heart and cause it not to work as well as it should. Smoking also decreases the oxygen levels in your blood and can cause high blood pressure. If you have lung disease or high blood pressure, quitting smoking can help with these conditions.

For more information or to make an appointment with one of the heart health professionals at Walker Heart Institute, click here.