Life certainly has taken us on some twists and turns these past few years, making it easy to forget important things like taking care of ourselves. At McLean, we value an individual’s overall wellness and want to ensure residents have every opportunity to thrive. That’s why this February, American Heart Month, we’re sharing some simple tips and reminders for keeping your heart healthy.
Tips for a healthy heart
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., but in many cases, it is preventable. The American Heart Association encourages us to take the opportunity to focus on our own health by:
- Educating yourself – Know the signs of a stroke and a heart attack. If you think you or a loved one may be having a heart attack or a stroke, get to a hospital emergency department as soon as possible, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Exercising – Doctors recommend that you exercise at least 150 minutes per week and maintain a healthy weight by walking or doing low-impact activities such as swimming, dancing or practicing yoga. An easy and fun way to track your health and physical activity is with a smartwatch, which can track your movement, exercise, heart rate, sleep patterns and more.
- Eating right – Make sure your daily diet includes a wide variety of whole fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens), and whole grains. Read nutrition labels and choose items that are low in sodium and have low amounts of added sugar and saturated fats. Choose lean proteins including chicken, seafood and nuts, as well as low-fat or no-fat dairy products.
- Not smoking – Don’t smoke, vape or use other nicotine products, which can cause long-term health problems. And don’t expose yourself to second-hand smoke. If you need help quitting, the state of Connecticut offers free smoking cessation programs.
- Limiting alcohol – Doctors recommend no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men. Alcohol has been shown to increase a person’s risk for cancer, according to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Red wine may be an ideal choice since the antioxidants in it may help prevent coronary artery disease. Check with your doctor to find out what’s right for you.
- Decreasing saturated and trans fats – These fats cause the body to produce more low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, which can clog the arteries and increase your risk for a stroke and a heart attack.
Enhanced wellness coming to McLean this summer
McLean’s Boundless Wellness program and new state-of-the-art fitness and wellness center, which will be part of the new Goodrich building opening this summer, will enhance the McLean community’s program to focus on each individual to maintain his or her unique personal wellness. “I look forward to working with residents to develop customized plans to perfectly match their needs,” Boundless Wellness Director Kimberly Wright says. She offers exercise classes in the existing Burkholder building and outside during the warmer months.
Keeping yourself in balance
Especially during these cold winter months, it’s important to acknowledge and share with others how you’re feeling so that you can successfully cope with the challenges that life can bring. Here are some ways to maintain your emotional wellness:
- Enjoy meals together – Food simply tastes better when shared with family and friends. Plan your menu and shopping list ahead of time and invite your neighbors over for brunch or dinner when it is safe to do so with COVID-19 protocols. If cooking isn’t your thing, our delicious dining means you can enjoy healthy meals made with locally sourced ingredients. Menus are thoughtfully planned to appeal to different tastes and appetites, including heart-healthy and sugar-free items.
- Go outside – Did you know that being out in nature is good for your heart? It reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which in turn can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. So, when it’s not too cold or icy, enjoy the sunshine with a refreshing nature break. Walk around your neighborhood or on one of the walking trails around campus, enjoy bike trails in Simsbury or visit the McLean Game Refuge wildlife sanctuary to take advantage of the peaceful surroundings and natural beauty.
- Manage stress – During COVID-19, a lot of us have experienced loneliness and feelings of isolation at times, and research suggests this may increase the risk of a heart attack and a stroke. Even though it may require social distancing and wearing a mask, socialization is important for heart health and overall well-being. McLean offers stress-relieving activities such as meditation and yoga classes, book clubs, nature and wildlife programs, and more. Open your mind to new ideas and experiences by connecting with the people around you.
Follow your heart: Learn more about McLean’s vibrant community and wellness offerings, including the highly anticipated expansion. Call 860-658-3786 to schedule an appointment or complete this form and one of our team members will be in touch shortly.