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Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in America. While high blood pressure and heart disease are serious conditions, a healthy heart is achievable through lifestyle changes including getting more physical activity, eating healthier, and lowering your sodium intake.


The Y offers the following tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):

  1. Think fresh: Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions, especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli/luncheon meats; and ready-to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
  2. Enjoy home-prepared foods: Cook more often at home where you are in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
  3. Fill up on veggies and fruits – they are naturally low in sodium: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
  4. Adjust your taste buds:  Cut back on salt little by little, and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods. Your taste for salt will lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
  5. Boost your potassium intake: Choose foods with potassium, which may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney), and bananas. Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.


Along with making slight modifications to your foods, adding in cardio exercises to your workout routine can make a difference in your heart health. Here are some ways at the Y you can be heart healthy:

  1. Cardio Group Exercise Classes: Work up a sweat and raise that heart rate in one of our many cardio classes. These classes range in intensity, but all will get your heart pumping.
  2. Play: It can be as simple as that! Activities like basketball, pickleball and even our interactive game simulator (available at Schottland and Eastside locations) can be a great way to the blood pumping while having fun, along with Family Time offered at various Y branches. Plus, it’s something the whole family can get involved in.
  3. Equipment: Treadmills and rowing machines are two great examples of pieces of equipment you’ll find at our Ys that can give you great cardio workouts. Our knowledgeable wellness coaches are always happy to help give advice on which equipment can help you achieve your goals.