BestHealth Offers Answers on Heart Health
Courtney Jackson is a health promotion specialist for BestHealth, and also is a certified instructor for group fitness and Zumba. She discusses common heart health issues.
- What are the biggest problems that you see keeping people from getting heart-healthy? Why do you think that is?
The issues I see are lack of information, people being too busy, denial that they have a problem or just lack of motivation. It is cheaper to eat out, more convenient. This leads to obesity and heart problems.
Being overweight is actually a medical concern because it can seriously affect a person’s health. The health problems that stem from being overweight go way beyond the ones we usually hear about, such as diabetes and heart disease.
- How do you help counsel people who might feel a bit overwhelmed when they learn from a doctor that they “must” lose weight, or change their diet, or begin to exercise?
I encourage them to take “baby” steps and the mindset of “one day at a time.” I advise them to make sure they keep a journal or food log to be accountable for what they eat. I encourage them to get a body fat test. I give them more information about BestHealth in regards to the free healthy cooking classes, screenings and fitness programs.
The first step is to gain knowledge on setting up a diet or exercise program. A regular program of exercise is an important component of any plan to help individuals lose, gain or maintain their weight.
- How quickly can people begin to feel better when they begin to take a heart healthier lifestyle approach in terms of foods, exercise and reducing stress?
The timeframe will vary for each individual. The psychological and physical benefits of exercise are equally important to the weight-conscious person. Emotionally, people should feel better immediately because they are trying to do the right thing. Drinking lots of water and eating the right balance of food will help to “flush” toxins out of your body.
Physical results will probably not be seen for four to six weeks. Exercise decreases stress and relieves tensions that might otherwise lead to overeating. Exercise builds physical fitness, which in turn builds self-confidence, an enhanced self-image and a positive outlook.
- Off the top of your head, what are the most common bits of advice/suggestions you give to people coming to BestHealth with heart-related concerns?
They may need to change how they eat, begin a new exercise program, take new medicines and visit their doctor on a regular basis. However, this change can help lower the risk of a heart attack, reduce heart disease, and increase ability to exercise and be active.
Some important suggestions I give to BestHealth members who are getting their blood pressure checked is that they watch their salt and sugar intake, drink plenty of water, quit smoking and minimize stress. Stress can have a real impact on your heart.
- What can parents do to encourage their children to be more heart-healthy? What can adult children do to encourage their parents (or older relatives) to be more heart- healthy?
Parents can encourage their children to be more active (afterschool sports), choose healthy snacks and keep those snacks readily available. Talk to them about why it’s important to be heart-healthy and to have a healthy lifestyle. Parents need to be a good role model for their kids.
In regards to adult children and their parents, make sure that the parents stay active physically and mentally. Involve them in social activities (BestHealth, church). Make sure that they have a nutritional balance and regular check-ups. Also, annual preventive exams and screenings are important; some screenings are offered at BestHealth. They need to take advantage of the community resource center and get involved!