by Dani Stone
Americans spend a lot of money and time trying to get fit and lose weight. We pour over diet books, hire personal trainers, and pay for diet programs that help us count calories and track miles on the treadmill. Dr. Martha Grogan, a cardiologist with the Mayo Clinic and medical editor for the new book Heart Healthy For Life says there’s a simpler equation we can use to achieve a healthy lifestyle and improve heart health. The answer, she says, lies in the simple equation Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8.
Eat 5 refers to eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. “The great thing about eating fruits and vegetables, they have all kinds of beneficial effects to your heart and for your health in general,” says Grogan. Working this number in to your daily routine can be quite easy if you make a conscious effort to do so and maybe even plan ahead when you’re at the grocery store. A typical day could look like this: Have a banana with breakfast, a juicy peach as a midday snack alongside a cheese stick, a salad of leafy greens with cucumbers and green pepper for lunch and for dinner, serve a side of asparagus along with lean meat, fish or chicken. Look at that, we actually got 6 servings in there.
Remember, fruits like apples, bananas and oranges are easy to tote to work and school. So are carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. When you’re chopping vegetables for one dish, chop extra and place them in individual baggies in the fridge for an easy grab when you’re on the way out the door. Fruit for dessert? Absolutely. A bowl of fresh blueberries, strawberries and blackberries can often be enough to curb that after dinner sweet tooth without all the empty calories.
Move 10 is the idea that we all need at least 10 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. “Start by looking at the time you spend waiting and use this time to move,” Grogan urges. It’s good advice. How many of us wait at the bus stop, wait for an appointment, or wait to pick kids up from school? Spend that time walking instead of standing. Depending on your neighborhood, 10 minutes could be a walk to the end of the block and back. If the weather is nasty outside or it’s time for the baby’s nap, set a 10 minute timer on the microwave and walk from one end of the house to the other. If you have a basement, include those stairs for extra cardio.
This is a tough one for adults but well worth it. As Dr. Grogan explains, “Sleep deprivation has shown to increase the risk of heart attack.” If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, before you rely on chemical sleep aids, try to pinpoint what is interfering with your night time slumber and then make some changes. If that means investing in room-darkening blinds, a fan, a humidifier, a sleep mask, comfy sheets, or a radio that plays the noise of an ocean swell or frogs chirping, do it. Turn of the computer, put down the phone, click off the TV and go to bed at a decent hour. Twitter can wait till tomorrow.