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...

Cardiovascular providers counter pandemic-induced sedentary lifestyle

Article
2/26/2021
Military health personnel sticking an IV in a patient's arm

COVID-19 fears likely affecting cardiovascular care but not at military medical treatment facilities.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heart Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

Good oral care requires lifetime commitment

Article
2/25/2021
Military health personnel, sitting in front of a group of children, showing them how to brush their teeth using a stuffed animal

Children’s Dental Health Month focuses on the importance of developing good oral hygiene habits at an early age.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Total Force Fitness

Eating disorders hinder optimal health and TFF nutrition concept

Article
2/25/2021
a picture of the produce section at a grocery store

Disordered eating lessens Total Force Fitness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

Proper diet, sleep, exercise, and joy key to heart health

Article
2/24/2021
Military personnel working out at the gym

Heart health is crucial to service members’ readiness throughout their high-stress careers. Working to achieve that takes self-discipline and moderation, but also joy, integrity, and social interaction

Recommended Content:

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

How do you mend a broken heart? It usually fixes itself

Article
2/23/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask, gets his heart checked out by military heath personnel

'Broken Heart Syndrome’ and ‘Holiday Heart Syndrome’ are very real phenomena. Spiritual and social fitness can help mitigate both.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

March 2021 Toolkit

Publication
2/22/2021

March is nationally recognized as Brain Injury Awareness Month, with the goal of increasing traumatic brain injury (TBI) awareness and improve health care providers’ ability to identify, care for, and treat all those who are affected by TBI. A TBI is a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. According to the Defense Health Agency Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence, 430,720 service members have been diagnosed with a first-time TBI since 2000. The toolkit also contains information on patient Safety Awareness Week, National Nutrition Month and many other graphics and messages you can use for holidays and observances during March.

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Total Force Fitness | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month

Training for a healthy heart can improve overall health

Article
2/22/2021
Military personnel wearing a mask exercising in the gym

Service members must be heart healthy to perform optimally throughout their military careers.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Physical Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health

WRNMMC nurses recognized for work with Virtual Cardiac Rehab

Article
2/19/2021
Two military personnel wearing face mask standing on gym equipment

WRNMMC’s Cardiac Rehab Center continues to care for patients during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Nurses Week

Keeping kids’ teeth healthy during a pandemic: brush, floss, no sugar

Article
2/18/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask examines the mouth of a child

Pediatric dentistry requires tooth brushing, flossing and sugar avoidance. During a pandemic, getting to a checkup has been hard.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

DOD initiatives address the sexual health of our military

Article
2/17/2021
Image of a bacterium

STIs are important to identify and treat because they can impact service members’ health and readiness, as well as their ability to perform their duties.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | Women's Health

Total Force Fitness Reintroduction

Video
2/17/2021
DHA Seal

The Military Health System is reintroducing Total Force Fitness. The Total Force Fitness concept focuses on a service member’s entire health throughout their career, connecting eight dimensions of fitness to optimize health, performance, and readiness holistically.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Environmental Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Spiritual Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Social Fitness | Financial Fitness | Health Tools

Healthy Heart for Body & Soul

Video
2/17/2021
DHA Seal

February is American heart health month and the Military Health System wants to help you maintain optimum heart health utilizing the Total Force Fitness tool.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Healthy Heart and Total Force Fitness | Heart Health

Ask the Doc: Trying to Be Heart Smart

Article
2/15/2021
Snow covers the trees around J. Edward Roush Lake, Huntington, Ind.

Dear Doc: I can’t speak for everyone, but I know where I live, we’ve still got a month or so of extreme cold weather left. Following the advice from your last column, I’m pushing through with my outdoor workouts. While I am staying warm, I’ve noticed that I get tired quicker than I would when it’s warm outside. I’ve also heard that your heart must work harder when you’re working out outside during the winter. How can I make sure I’m not risking my heart health to keep up my routine? –-Trying to be Heart Smart

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Heart Health | Ask The Doc

Milley Highlights Importance of Heart Health during visit to WRNMMC

Article
2/12/2021
Two military personnel, wearing masks, standing with woman in red dress, also wearing a  mask

Americans recognize the first Friday in February as National Wear Red Day.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health

Fort Belvoir nursing chiefs in unique position as African Americans

Article
2/11/2021
Two military personnel, wearing masks, in a meeting

Fort Belvoir team shares decades of experience in military medicine.

Recommended Content:

African American History Month | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit | Nurses Week
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 12

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.