February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it. Irregular schedules and limited access to healthy foods are just a few of the cardiovascular health challenges over the road drivers sometimes face, so this topic is of particular interest to the CFI family!
But it isn't just drivers that are at risk. In fact, half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking). So let's all take some time this month to fall in love with a heart healthy lifestyle. Here are seven steps you can take today to help you live a more heart healthy life. Read on for more information or share this list with someone you care about!
Fall In Love With These Heart Healthy Habits
- See if you can fit three 10-minute blocks of exercise into your day
- Fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits
- Choose reduced sodium options at every meal
- Don't smoke, or start a smoking cessation program
- Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get enough sleep
Ready to embrace your new heart healthy lifestyle while over the road? Let's get started!
Trucker-Approved: 10-minute blocks of exercise
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of physical activity per week. That can seem like a lot, but it really comes down to 30 minutes per day. To get started, try adding in 10 minute exercise periods during your breaks from driving. Physical activity is anything that moves your body and burns calories, so walking, climbing stairs and stretching are all good options. Try using resistance bands or small weights during one session for even more benefit.
Half For Your Health
When you're planning a meal on the road, try to have half of it made up of fruits and vegetables. If you're filling a plate, this can be easy to aim for visually. But what about those road friendly soups, stews and sandwiches? Balance your ingredients whenever you can. Traveling with easy-to-snack on fruit and vegetables like apples and carrots can make up the difference.
Go Lite On The SaltThe American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams (mgs) of sodium per day and an ideal limit of less than 1,500 mg per day, especially if you have high blood pressure. Luckily you can find many low sodium options at restaurants and in grocery stores. Try to avoid adding any extra salt to your food. If you're cooking on the truck, get flavor from herbs or low sodium spice mixes instead.
Stay Smoke Free
Smoking is completely preventable, yet it one of the biggest risks to your heart health! According to recent data, 54 percent of commercial drivers smoke cigarettes, which is more than twice the national average for all adults. There's no time like the present to start a smoking cessation program if you're a smoker.
Stay Connected (To Your Doctor)
If you, like many truck drivers, struggle with high blood pressure or cholesterol make sure to regularly see a doctor and stay current with any maintenance prescriptions. It can be difficult to make time while over the road, but time spent on staying heart healthy can buy you years in the long run. CFI offers digital options to reach medical professionals through your smartphone, get certain diagnoses and even prescriptions sent to a pharmacy near you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
According to the CDC, 7 in 10 long haul truck drivers are obese. Obesity carries a high risk of heart disease and can also lead to other problems like Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. Even for those who don't need to lose weight, tracking your weight and body mass over time can help you stay on top of your heart health.
Patients with sleep apnea often also have compromised heart health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, men with severe sleep apnea were 58 percent more likely to develop congestive heart failure. Even if you don't have sleep apnea, it can be hard to wind down at the end of your day, but getting a good night's sleep should be a priority!
February may be the shortest month, but that doesn't mean there isn't time to take one of these steps and protect your health. Have you made a change for better health? Share with the CFI family on Facebook.