Founded by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, American Heart Month takes place February each year. How can medical students practice what they preach and dedicate themselves to good cardiovascular health?
What the AHA suggests: Eating healthy. But what does this even mean?! According to the American Heart Association, a healthful diet can be as simple as 1) opting for a diverse diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, fish, skinless poultry, lean meat, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes; and 2) limiting sugary drinks, sweets, fatty or processed meats, solid fats, and salty or highly processed foods. The AHA promotes “eating the rainbow” to ensure you are consuming all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs.
My take: A salad a day… Personally, I try to eat one large salad a day (I love mixing those pre-packaged salad kits with a huge handful of spring mix or arugula for an easy way to get variety) with some protein (avocados, some leftover rotisserie chicken from dinner the night before, almonds). And my white coat is always packed with healthy snacks (bananas, raw nuts, a low-sugar granola bar), so I don’t choose unhealthy cafeteria options out of extreme hunger. 😉
What the AHA suggests: Move more. The AHA suggests 150 minutes of exercise a week. An easy way to get those minutes in is to add 10 minutes of moderate activity two or more times a day.
My take: Do what doesn’t feel like work. For me, that’s running! For you, it might be water aerobics, rock climbing, or ballroom dancing. If it mentally stimulates and excites you, you are more likely to stick with it and stay committed than if it feels more like a chore.
What the AHA suggests: Be well. The AHA knows that real health isn’t just about the number on the scale. It incorporates sleeping enough, practicing mindfulness, stress management, and good relationships with others.
My take: Do one thing for yourself every day. In my opinion, it’s the only way to stay sane through the stress of school! If you can do just one thing every day that makes you smile (even if it’s just listening to a “feel good” song on a long day), you’ll be better for it.