February: American Heart Month

CHENANGO COUNTY—With the month of February being designated as American Heart Month, organizers at the Chenango County Public Health Department (CCPHD) are taking measures to increase community awareness on how to live a healthier lifestyle.

Recent studies have indicated that Chenango County ranks among the highest in New York state in obesity and heart disease; and addressing those numbers can happen though healthier life choices. Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is very important.

But that doesn’t mean surviving on kale and doing extreme workouts for hours; CCPHD indicated that there are some simple, less intense steps community members can take to help improve their health.

The initial step for weight loss is to set realistic goals.

Start off in small increments, such as setting your weight loss goal at five or 10 pounds and keeping it off.

Continuing this cycle of weight loss until reaching a satisfactory weight is a natural second step. To meet and keep those goals, keeping a food diary is essential. A food diary is the key to tracking what foods have the most substantial caloric impact and exactly how much is eaten throughout the day.

The information collected can shed light on problem eating or poor food choices, identifying these problems will help to develop improvement plans.

Seeking the assistance of a registered dietician to help make healthier food choices without depriving yourself. Understanding appropriate portion sizes is equally important. It is easy to overeat, especially when you are served large portions of food. A meal at a restaurant is a good example of being served too much food to eat at one sitting.

Adding in physical activity is also very important, and this doesn’t mean running a marathon immediately. A simple walk can do wonders for you, and apart from burning calories, walking can also have a positive psychological impact on your mood. It is best to begin with light exercise whole gradually increasing your speed and distance.

Switching up activities to reduce boredom is helpful as long as the activity is enjoyable.

Quitting cigarette smoking, reducing your salt intake, and getting a handle on cholesterol will greatly impact heart health as well.

The journey to a healthy lifestyle is often very personal. Find what works for you, what makes you feel confident, and enthusiastic. There will be days when we may overindulge or skip our exercise but don’t let that lead you off your course to self-improvement. Just keep moving forward and enjoy each day. The healthier you become the more energy you will have.

Making these healthy life style changes can greatly lower your risk of developing heart disease. For more information contact your primary health care provider or call the Chenango County Department of Health, Nursing Division at 337-1660. Follow us on Facebook for healthier lifestyle ideas.

– Submitted by the Chenango County Public Health Dept.

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