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How to Boost Your Heart Health

Start now to improve your quality of life

A Veteran works out in the garden with a young child.Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Eating wisely, being physically active, quitting tobacco, and getting enough sleep can help keep your heart healthy. Here are some important things you can do to improve and maintain cardiovascular health:

Eat wisely 

A healthy eating style can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease.

You can make healthy food and drink choices with a little planning. The DASH eating plan is a great way to learn heart-healthy habits. Get started by creating healthy plates for the week. When your menu is complete, make a shopping list to avoid unplanned food choices that don’t support your health goals.

Be active

Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. The latest evidence shows inactivity leads to increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Any amount of physical activity is better than none, whether it's walking, cycling, gardening, or playing with friends or family. Add activity gradually with a goal of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. When you're comfortable with this, you can increase your time or intensity, or both!

If you want help getting started or need more support, try VA's MOVE! Weight Management Program. The MOVE! team at your VA Medical Center will help you work towards your personalized health and weight goals. Telehealth (remote, from home) options may be available.

Quit tobacco 

Quitting tobacco use is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health and protect your family’s health. All forms of tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff, snus, and chewing tobacco are harmful.

Talk with your health care team about help with quitting tobacco. Your team can help you by providing medications, tips, tools, behavioral counseling, and support. It’s never too late to quit—your health will improve at any age after quitting tobacco!

Sleep well 

Trouble sleeping is very common and can cause problems with daytime functioning. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Too little sleep can put you at risk for health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

There are steps you can take to maintain healthy sleep. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, your health care team can help you find ways to improve your sleep. Relaxation methods may make it easier to fall asleep. VA offers resources and support to help you sleep well.

Track and share your progress 

My HealtheVet's Track Health feature makes it easy to track your progress. Log your vitalsmeals, and daily activity or exercise. With a Premium account, you can use your VA Blue Button report to share your vitals with your health care team. 

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Sleep Well (Veterans Health Library)

Updated March 30, 2023