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How to Keep Your Heart Strong

Start now to improve your quality of life

A Veteran checking his heart rate while runningHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Regular exercise, a good diet, and enough sleep can keep your heart healthy. Here are the key actions for you to maintain cardiovascular health:

  • Exercise to build heart strength: Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. Whether it's jogging, bicycling, or even gardening, aim to add at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. If you're not sure where to begin, try VA's MOVE! Weight Management Program. The MOVE team will help you create goals and teach you how to eat wisely and lose weight. There may even be a telehealth (remote, from home) option available for you to use at your VA Medical Center.

  • Eating better for your heart: Adjusting your diet has many benefits for your heart health. A healthy diet can lower your blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and decrease your heart disease risk. Eating wisely and learning healthier options takes is a little planning.Get started by creating heart-healthy plates for the week. When your menu is completed, make a shopping list to keep you from making unhealthy impulse food choices.

  • Heal with sleep: Boosting your energy levels when you're awake is just as important as when you're asleep. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep can put you at risk for health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Improve your sleep habits by having a bedtime routine and cutting back on alcohol at night. If you suffer from insomnia, relaxation methods may make it easier to fall asleep.

  • Track and share your progress: Before making changes to your exercise, diet, or sleep routines, use Secure Messaging (sign in required) to discuss your heart health action plan with your doctor.

When you're ready to begin, My HealtheVet's Track Health feature makes it easy to monitor heart health and lifestyle changes, such as keeping track of your vitals, tracking your meals, and recording your daily activity or exercise. If you have a My HealtheVet Premium Account, you can use your VA Blue Button report to share your vitals with your health care team. If you don't have a Premium Account, you can upgrade your account now.

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Which one step are you most likely to take to make your heart stronger?