A year ago, I received results from my annual physical that were a little concerning...well, more than concerning.
You see, my family has a long history of heart disease. Both of my parents have heart disease. My grandmother and her siblings died from heart disease or stroke. So, when I received abnormal lab results from my physician, I knew I needed to make a change.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 34 seconds an American loses their life to heart disease. It is the leading cause of death since 1950.
To feel more confident about my health and encourage others to live healthy lifestyles too, here are some steps I’ve taken.
Exercise for a healthy heart: To combat those concerning numbers, my first step was to step up and recommit to my weekly exercise routine. For those not currently exercising, walking is a great way to get started and one of my favorite go-to activities to combat heart disease.
Diet your way to a healthy heart: Exercise alone isn’t enough. A change in diet made a difference for me. I’m a southerner at heart and fried foods were a part of my diet. I have made the choice to swap fried chicken for leafy greens with grilled chicken.
Decisions make a difference in heart health: Eating out with my family is a great pastime. It allows us to connect over food. When we consider restaurants, they know I love steak. But since my lab results, we now swap the steakhouse for a restaurant that specializes in seafood.
An ‘A-HA’ moment for a healthy heart: My family history and passion for heart health has motivated me to learn more and to get involved. I have been active with the American Heart Association (AHA) for over 10 years. The education they provide on heart disease, heart attack and strokes can help save lives. Now, I am a member of the American Heart Association Southeast Regional Board. In the past, I served as chair of the AHA Heart Ball where we focused on the ‘heart’ of our community, driving change, and improving behaviors that help people live longer, healthier lives.
Health equity for all: One of the many things I love about working at Colonial Life is that we also support stronger, healthier communities. This includes work with the AHA as they ramp up efforts to extend health equity through education in underserved communities. In addition to charitable funding and employee volunteerism, we direct resources to action-oriented health and wellbeing programs which serve those who are disproportionately at risk to adverse health outcomes.
Invest in community: In addition to Colonial Life’s work with AHA, we provide funding for nutritious foods – like fresh fruits and vegetables – to help individuals prevent and manage chronic diseases. Our employees deliver meals to seniors and volunteer at local food pantries.
Heart health is a way of life. The more we know, the more opportunity there is to reduce heart disease and help educate generations to come.