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Together, you and Southcoast can take steps toward a healthy heart


Take 100 steps toward a healthy heart from Southcoast Health System and Southcoast Hospitals Group
When it comes to being heart healthy, there are hundreds of steps you can take to get started.

We have put together more than 100 — 110 to be exact! — to help you take the first step toward a healthier you.

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Please share your health steps with us on Twitter by using the hashtag #scheartsteps.


1. Skip the salt
Check the sodium level on all packaged foods. Try to choose foods that say 5% Daily Value (DV) or less. A sodium content of 20% DV or more is high.


2. Healthy Helpings
Check on the serving size and the number of servings per package. Don't supersize your serving.


3. Step it up

Take a brisk walk and lower your risk of stroke. Studies show that walking just two hours per week — four half-hour walks — can lower stroke risk by 30 percent.


4. Up the ante
Look for foods that have 20% or more of fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin D.


5. Hold the salt
Look for foods labeled "low sodium," "reduced sodium," or "no salt added."


6. If it grows, it's good

Load up on vegetables, fruits, beans and peas, which are naturally low in sodium. Fresh, frozen and dried options are all good choices.


7. Go 100%
When you buy canned fruit, look for options packed in 100% juice or water.


8. Pass on processed
Limit processed foods, especially foods that are salted, smoked or cured, like hot dogs, bacon and deli meats.


9. A reason to rinse
If you use canned foods that aren't low sodium, rinse them before eating to wash away some of the salt.


10. A better butter
Use unsalted butter or soft margarine in place of butter.


11. Put the shaker down
Don't add salt to the water when you cook pasta, rice or vegetables.


12. Ditch the yolk

Make recipes or egg dishes with egg whites, instead of egg yolks. Substitute two egg whites for each egg yolks.


13. Potassium please
Eating more potassium can help lower your blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include potatoes, cantaloupe, bananas, beans, and yogurt.


14. Save your health and the environment
Ride a bicycle — to work, to the store, or just for fun.


15. Be with your kids
Play outdoor games with your children.


16. Keep it in check
Get your cholesterol checked once every five years if you are at risk for heart disease.


17. Get moving

Participate in a vigorous activity such as jogging, swimming or riding a bike, for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes per week.


18. The pressure's on
Check your blood pressure at least every two years, starting at age 18. It's important to check your blood pressure often, especially if you are over age 40.


19. Get fabulous fiber
Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Look for items that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.


20. Wholesome whole-grains
Look for whole-wheat or whole-grain as the first ingredient listed on the label.


21. Stomp out smoke
Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.


22. Lace Up

Get off the couch and lace up your sneakers. Every minute you replace TV watching with brisk walking helps lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes.


23. Dilute the drink
If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.


24. Ask about aspirin
Daily aspirin can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. Your doctor can help you decide if it's right for you.


25. Calm down
When you take steps to manage stress, you help protect yourself from serious health problems like heart disease and depression.


26. Grow your own food
Start a garden for fresh, inexpensive and flavorful additions to meals.


27. Trump the trans fat
Trans fats may be in foods like cakes, cookies, stick margarines, and fried foods.


28. Scrap saturated fats
Saturated fats come from animal products like cheese, fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.


29. It's all about moderation
If you choose moderate exercise, try to do at least two hours and 30 minutes a week. Moderate activities include things like walking fast, dancing, and raking leaves.


30. It only takes 10 minutes
Do moderate or vigorous aerobic activity for at least 10 minutes at a time. You can also combine moderate and vigorous activities.


31. Muscle magic
Muscle-strengthening activities include push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights. Do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.


32. Fit and physical
People of all ages and body types benefit from physical activity. Even if you feel out-of-shape or haven't been active in a long time, you can find activities that will work for you.


33. Talk with family and friends
A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write your friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys.


34. Say goodbye to fry

Instead of frying try sautŽing. Use a pan made with nonstick metal or a coated, nonstick surface, so you will need to use little or no oil when cooking.


35. Accept the things you cannot change
Don't say, "I'm too old." You can still learn new things, work toward a goal, love and help others.


36. Remember to laugh
Laughter makes you feel good. Don't be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when you're alone.


37. Go fish

Eat one serving of grilled or baked fish at least twice a week.


38. Give up the bad habits
Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress and health risks.


39. Slow down
Try to "pace" instead of "race." Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done so you can manage stress.


40. Get enough sleep
Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can't sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.


41. Manage stress
Use "to do" lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time.


42. Choose wisely
Try to avoid restaurants that offer all-you-can-eat buffets or specials, because you are more likely to eat more food (and more calories) than you need.


43. Cook smart
Stock up on heart-healthy cookbooks and recipes for cooking ideas.


44. Get great grades
Use "choice" or "select" grades of beef rather than "prime," and be sure to trim the fat off the edges before cooking.


45. Cut the fat
Use cuts of red meat and pork labeled "loin" and "round," as they usually have the least fat.


46. Light is lean
With poultry, use the leaner light meat (breasts) instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs), and be sure to remove the skin.


47. Do your homework

Check out a restaurant's menu online before you visit. Look for nutritional content to help select a healthy meal choice before you go.


48. Decrease dairy fat
For recipes that require dairy products, try low-fat or fat-free versions of milk, yogurt and cheese.


49. Fresh and full
Avoid using prepackaged seasoning mixes because they often contain a lot of salt. Use fresh herbs whenever possible. Grind herbs with a mortar and pestle for the freshest and fullest flavor.


50. Add some herbs
Add dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary and marjoram to dishes for a more pungent flavor — but use them sparingly because they're powerful.


51. Fabulous flavor
Use dry mustard for a zesty flavor when you're cooking, or mix it with water to make a very sharp condiment.


52. Heat it up

To add a little more "bite" to your dishes, add some fresh hot peppers. A small amount goes a long way.


53. Smart sprays
Use liquid vegetable oils or nonfat cooking sprays whenever possible.


54. Don't get tricked
Stay away from coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil. Even though they are vegetable oils and have no cholesterol, they are high in saturated fats.


55. Fry to stir-fry
Instead of frying try stir-frying. Use a wok to cook vegetables, poultry or seafood in vegetable stock, wine or a small amount of oil.


56. Ready for a roast
Instead of frying try roasting. Use a rack in the pan so the meat or poultry doesn't sit in its own fat drippings. Instead of basting with pan drippings, use fat-free liquids like wine, tomato juice or lemon juice.


57. Fire up the grill
Instead of frying try grilling and broiling. Use a rack so the fat drips away from the food.


58. Bake like a boss
Instead of frying try baking. Bake foods in covered cookware with a little extra liquid.


59. Discover your poaching potential
Instead of frying try poaching. Cook chicken or fish by immersing it in simmering liquid such as chicken stock or water.


60. Spice it up

Instead of salt, consider different herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals.


61. Simmer and steam
Instead of frying try steaming. Steam vegetables in a basket over simmering water and they will retain more flavors and won't need any salt.


62. It all counts
Exercise, whether it is a structured exercise program or just part of your daily routine, all adds up to a healthier heart.


63. Plan ahead

Plan your meals one week at a time. It could help keep meals healthy, and save time and money, too.


64. Take a detour
Take the stairs, park your car far from the building. Adding a few extra steps to your daily activities will help you exercise without even noticing!


65. Be creative
Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories, such as climbing stairs or playing sports or even vacuuming.


66. Snack right
Snacking isn't "bad" if you do it in moderation and make healthy choices.


67. Oh my omegas
Go for grilled fish more often. The healthiest types include salmon, trout and herring, which are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.


68. Color me healthy
Go greenÉ and red, orange, yellow, purple and more. Serve green leafy salads or fruit salads instead of mayonnaise-based salads. Add some crunch — and healthier fats — with some toasted walnuts or almonds instead of croutons.


69. Veg out
Instead of potato chips, which can be high in saturated and trans fats, serve raw veggies like cucumbers, carrots, celery, broccoli or cauliflower with a low-fat dip.


70. Calorie countdown
Drink water or diet soda. Regular sodas are loaded with sugars and calories.


71. Cook for yourself
Cut back on commercially baked foods, like cookies, pies and cakes.


72. A smart smoothie

A smoothie with fresh, in-season fruit, fat-free vanilla or lemon yogurt and a touch of honey makes a healthy, refreshing dessert alternative.


73. Flavorful fruit
Try grilling fruits like pineapple slices, nectarines, peaches or plums — the natural sugars caramelize with the heat and give them great flavor.


74. Multi-task with one bottle
Use reduced-fat, low-fat, light or no-fat salad dressings on salads, for dips or as marinades.


75. Condiment cut back
Cut back on salty seasonings and condiments like teriyaki, soy and barbecue sauce.


76. Check your cheese
Choose low-fat, reduced-fat or fat-free cheese for your sandwiches and hamburgers.


77. A texture treat
Choose whole-grain, high-fiber breads and rolls, such as whole wheat, oats, oatmeal, whole rye, whole-grain corn and buckwheat. In addition to being good for you, they add more flavor and texture to your meal.


78. Eat healthy EVERYWHERE
When heading out to eat, make an effort to find meals that are low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.


79. Got milk?
Avoid milk that contains added flavorings such as vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.


80. Prepare to ask
Don't be hesitant to ask your server how particular foods are prepared or what ingredients they contain.


81. Customize it
Ask whether the restaurant can prepare your food to order. For example, leave off or going very light on dressings, butter, cheese or other high-fat items.


82. Try flavor alternatives

Instead of salt, use vinegar or citrus juice for a wonderful flavor enhancer


83. Eat less
Ask if smaller portions are available or whether you can share entrees with a companion. If smaller portions aren't available, ask for a to-go box when you order and place half the entrŽe in the box to eat later.


84. Substitute
Ask your server whether healthy substitutions are possible.


85. Know how it's cooked
Remember that foods served fried, au gratin, crispy, scalloped, pan-fried, sautŽed, buttered, creamed or stuffed are high in fat and calories. Instead, look for steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached or roasted foods.


86. Make smart choices
Choose entrees that feature seafood, chicken or lean meat, and avoid fatty meats. If you order meat, remove all visible fat and ask the chef to remove the skin from the chicken.


87. Stick to the basics
Avoid ordering before-the-meal "extras" like cocktails, appetizers, bread and butter because these are often sources of extra fat, sodium and calories.


88. It's easy
Walking is the simplest way to start and continue a fitness journey.


89. Do it as a family
Plan family outings and vacations that include physical activity, such as hiking, backpacking or swimming.


90. Stick to it
Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise.


91. Live longer
Studies show that for every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.


92. Sightseeing
See the sights in new cities by walking, jogging or bicycling.


93. Have fun at work
Participate in or start a recreation league at your company.


94. Hit the dance floor

Dance with someone or by yourself. Take dancing lessons. Hit the dance floor on fast numbers instead of slow ones.


95. Make it official
Schedule exercise time on your business calendar and treat it as any other important appointment.


96. Avoid traffic
Join a fitness center or YMCA near your job. Work out before or after work to avoid rush-hour traffic, or drop by for a noon workout.


97. Challenge yourself
When walking, pick up the pace from leisurely to brisk. Choose a route with hills for extra resistance.


98. Garden for good health
Work in the garden or mow the grass. Using a riding mower doesn't count! Rake leaves, prune, dig and pick up trash.


99. Get outside
Go out for a short walk before breakfast, after dinner or both! Start with 5 to 10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes.


100. TV tone up
When watching TV, sit up instead of lying on the sofa. Or stretch. Better yet, jump and do calisthenics during commercial breaks.


101. Walk and talk
Stand up while talking on the telephone. Break up long stretches of sitting at your desk by talking and walking around your office.


102. Care for your canine

Walk the dog.


103. Walk and shop
Park farther away at the shopping mall and walk the extra distance. Wear your walking shoes and sneak in an extra lap or two around the mall.


104. Put it in plain sight
Keep exercise equipment where you can see it every day and use it!


105. Multi-task
At work, brainstorm project ideas with a co-worker while taking a walk.


106. Step and stride
Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or get off a few floors early and take the stairs the rest of the way.


107. Get inspired
Download some audio fitness coaching.


108. Raise your health
Form a sports team to raise money for charity events.


109. Bye-bye bus
Get off the bus a few blocks early and walk the rest of the way to work or home.


110. Music for your moves
Play your favorite music while exercising; enjoy something that motivates you.


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