It’s American Heart Month! While it’s important to take care of your heart year-round, February is a great time to learn the risk factors of heart disease and take action to prevent it.
Did you know cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined? In fact, heart disease kills 1 in 3 American women each year, approximately one woman every minute. These may be stats you face every day in your profession but it’s important not to just think about them in the context of your patients.
The traveling medical profession can cause higher levels of worry and stress. To help combat this reality, we’ve crafted a few, quick tips to help you keep your heart health top of mind.
1. Get Movin’
If you are a nurse on the pediatric floor, we know you may have no problem staying active while at work. But if a normal shift consists of sitting all day, reading scans or labs, this may not be the case. Make it a point to get up and walk around, or at least stretch your legs for circulation every hour.
Have a fitness wearable like an Apple Watch or FitBit? Use those to track your steps and meet your goals while at work. Doing a couple sets of jumping jacks will even suffice. Don’t have a wearable? Apps for your mobile device, like Runtastic, track your steps and help you hit your goals. Even 30 minutes of daily activity helps decrease your heart risk factors.
2. Choose Snacks Wisely
It can definitely be tempting to grab that burger and fries on your way home after the longest shift ever … don’t give in, though! Think about your heart! A diet high in saturated trans fats (like fast food) raises blood cholesterol — a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Before you head out for your shift, prep a delicious meal and leave it in your fridge. Knowing it’s home, waiting for you will keep fast food temptations at bay. Still find yourself thinking about your drive-thru favorites? Outsmart those cravings with a turkey burger or chicken tacos.
3. Get Everyone in Your Department On Board
There’s nothing like the power of a team to help you accomplish your goals. Whether your department consists of just a few or an army, getting everyone working towards heart health will help. During long shifts together, encourage coworkers to bring in healthy snacks, like veggie trays and fruit salads, to keep you from frequenting the vending machines. Need help reaching your water and fitness goals? Make a competition out of it. You can even bet different work duties to make things a little more interesting.
February only puts us two months into the year, so setting resolutions for your heart health this month is a great way to change your habits for 2018.