Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

10 ways to support holistic heart health

picture of a heart running on the treadmill with the words "healthy heart for body and soul. ten ways to support holistic heart health" February is Heart Health Month. Your heart is integral to your overall wellness, and vice versa. Learn more about 10 holistic heart health tips.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

Heart disease has long been the No. 1 cause of death among adults in the United States. Research has shown that current and former service members are at greater risk for heart disease and heart attack than the civilian population as well.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF HEART DISEASE?

Coronary heart disease, or when the arteries that supply blood to the heart narrow or become blocked, is the most common type of heart disease. The loss of blood flow to the heart can lead to a heart attack.

WHERE DOES HEART DISEASE COME FROM?

Some risk factors for heart disease are genetic—including your sex, family history, and race or ethnicity—and some lifestyle-based, including stress, smoking, diet, exercise, and sleep habits. While you can’t change your genetics, the choices you make as part of living a healthy lifestyle keep can keep your heart healthy.

HEAR FROM THE EXPERTS

Below are 10 Total Force Fitness heart health suggestions from the medical experts at the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP, part of at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Their team of scientists, specialists, and support staff translate research into evidence-based resources to help Warfighters and their families achieve total fitness and optimize performance.

1. Get moving. According to Dr. Jonathan Scott, an assistant professor in the department of Military and Emergency Medicine at the Uniformed Services University one of the simplest ways to improve your heart health is to get at least 30 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity at least five days a week. This can ward off other risks for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high levels of “bad” cholesterol, or excess weight. “Importantly, 30 minutes of activity does not have to be done all at once,” said Dr. Scott. “You can break this up into 10 minute chucks, such as taking a 10 minute walk after meals.”

2. Make healthy food choices. Aim for a diet made up of colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Try tracking your food choices to notice your calories in (what you eat and drink) and calories out (energy used during physical activity and metabolic processes such as breathing and digestion). Dr. Scott recommends “When it comes to making healthy food choices, think about what you can add to your diet rather than what you have to cut out. It could be as simple as trying one new vegetable this week or adding 1 piece of fruit to your daily routine.

3. Know your family’s medical history. Awareness of your family’s health history can help you take preventative steps and get ahead of heart disease before it becomes an issue. Ask family members about their health and discuss your risks with your healthcare provider.

4. Get enough sleep. Adults who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night are more likely to have health problems, including high blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and heart attack. (Nearly 50% of those who have served in the military report not getting enough sleep, compared to 36% for civilians.)

5. Keep cholesterol under control. Your food choices can affect your cholesterol and triglycerides, which are waxy substances in the bloodstream that can clog arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. AHA suggests adults ages 20 and older get their cholesterol levels checked every 4 to 6 years.

6. Manage diabetes. High glucose levels in your blood can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. If you have diabetes, knowing your diabetes ABCs can help you take control of your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

7. Monitor your mental health. Although the link between stress and heart disease isn’t clear, chronic stress might cause people to cope in unhealthy ways such as smoking, drinking too much, or overeating. Stress also might raise your blood pressure, a known risk factor for heart disease. So, make stress your ally to manage it effectively. Depression symptoms might worsen cardiovascular health too, especially if you eat unhealthy foods or live a sedentary lifestyle. Keep in mind help is available, and mental fitness could improve your heart health.

8. Quit smoking, or never start. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. The good news is that your risk for heart disease greatly lowers after 1 year of quitting smoking. Think about why you smoke and why you haven’t quit, and then take steps to shake the habit once and for all.

9. Drink alcohol in moderation. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests 1–2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. Drinking too much alcohol raises the levels of triglycerides (a type of fat) in your blood, which can contribute to heart disease. While you might have heard some alcohol (for example, red wine) can be good for you, the research is still mixed. If you don’t already drink alcohol, AHA suggests skipping it entirely to keep your heart healthy, so get good at sticking to “no.”

10. Be aware of your blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension can lead to heart attacks or stroke. Get your blood pressure taken at your yearly physical and know what the numbers mean.

When it comes to heart disease, there are some risk factors you can’t change. But with healthy lifestyle choices and a Total Force Fitness approach, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease and keep your heart healthy and happy.

You also may be interested in...

You’d Be Surprised How Eating Habits Affect You, and Your Readiness

Article
1/20/2022
Military personnel picking out broccoli

From Overweight to Fit: Experts Advice

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

Six Immediate Health Benefits You Will See If You Lose a Little Weight

Article
1/14/2022
A soldier assigned to the 256th Combat Support Hospital, Twinsburg, Ohio, drinks water from a gallon-sized jug during Combat Support Training Exercise 18-03 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, March 26, 2018. The 256th CSH implemented a goal setting competition, dubbed Dandy Camp, to teach and encourage soldiers to monitor their total carbohydrate intake during the field exercise. The overall goal of Dandy Camp is to educate soldiers about healthy eating choices and encourage soldiers to set and meet goals for themselves.

Losing even a little weight now can have a major impact on your health and quality of life. This long list of benefits might help motivate you to adjust your habits to achieve a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Women's Health | Heart Health | Nutritional Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Sleep

Dental Awareness Deployment

Infographic
1/13/2022
Are you deploying? Make dentist appointment

A force that is not dentally prepared may see a fivefold increase in deployed dental emergencies. Regular dental care is needed to maintain readiness and deployability. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Health | Dental Care | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Main

Infographic
1/13/2022
Dental Health Awareness

Dental and oral health is critical to overall readiness, and poor dental hygiene and preventive practices can impact deployability. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Awareness

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness. Things to do in your birthday month? Reminder - Make dentist appointment

DYK: Your birth month is the perfect time to make your yearly appointments – don’t neglect your teeth and make your dentist appointment this month. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Awareness 2

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness. Reminder - Make Dentist Appointment

Keep yourself mission ready by taking care of your teeth. Schedule your dental appointment to maintain readiness. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Awareness: Reminder - Make Dentist Appointment

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness. Things to do in your birthday month? Reminder - Make Dentist Appointment

Things to do on your birthday: 1. Eat cake. 2. Brush your teeth. 3. Make your annual dentist appointment. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Awareness. Things to do in your birthday month?

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness. Things to do in your birthday month? Reminder - Make Dentist Appointment

Is your birthday this month? Happy birthday! Now is the perfect time to schedule your annual dentist appointment. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Reminder Avoid Tobacco

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Reminder: Avoid Tobacco to Protect Your Teeth

Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other forms of tobacco cause oral cancer, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Avoid using tobacco to maintain your oral health. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Statistics

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness. Dental Statistics: Military jaw pain, Recruiting, Rate of deployed dental emergencies, Non-combat injury rate

Dental Did You Know? Dental issues can negatively impact your deployability. Stay mission ready and keep on top of your dental care. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Food and Beverage

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness. Reminder - Avoid sugary foods and drinks to protect your teeth

#DYK: Drinks and foods high in sugar can lead to damage to your teeth. Skip the soda to protect your teeth. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Teeth

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness. Things you shouldn't use your teeth for: Open packages or bottles

Your teeth are your tools for eating – not for opening bottles or packages. Stick to using your hands to open containers. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dietary Supplements: Educate Yourself First Before Trying Them

Article
12/28/2021
Photo of a dinner plate with food and dietary supplements next to it

Operation Supplement Safety is your one-stop guide to dietary supplement information

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Weight Management for Lasting Health

Don’t Underestimate Mother Nature: Winter Safety Tips for Cold Weather

Article
12/23/2021
Military Personnel training

Don’t fool with Mother Nature in the winter: Be prepared

Recommended Content:

Environmental Fitness | Winter Safety | Total Force Fitness

Ask the Doc: How Do I Get Rid of the 'Dark Cloud' Over My Holidays?

Article
12/13/2021
A mask hanging on a Christmas tree

Doc talks to Jane Olien, a licensed clinical social worker assigned to Behavioral Health Clinical Operations, part of the DHA’s Medical Affairs/Clinical Support Division, in San Antonio, Texas, about combatting feelings of depression around the holidays.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Ask The Doc
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 13

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.