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If you've recently been diagnosed with a chronic condition, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. You know you need to make some changes, eat right, exercise more, stop stressing, but where do you start? A healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to improve your health. Begin with these tips, which you can start today?

Make a medication cheat sheet

Medications can help prevent a serious health problem. That's why it's very important to take your medicines correctly, according to the American Heart Association. Although, if you're on several medications, it may be hard to keep track of everything. By placing all important information about each drug in one location, it can help to keep your medications straight. For each medication you take, write down:

*The medication name
*What it's for
*Dosage
*When to take it and how often
*The name of the doctor who prescribed it

Have some fun

The AHA states that stress speeds your heart rate and drives up your blood pressure. Occasional stress is normal. Feeling stressed all the time, though, can be hard on your heart. Doing something you find fun is a simple and effective antidote against stress. Carve out 15 minutes of time today for something you enjoy. You could take a bath, read a book or play with your pet, whatever makes you smile.

Enlist your support team

Remember, you don't have to go through this alone. Be up front with your friends and family members about what you're feeling and what you need from them. It can also help to join a support group for people with similar conditions. It can be reassuring to know others have gone through similar experiences. 

Go for a walk

Regular activity can help you reach a healthy weight, lower your blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The more active you are, the better the benefits. Research shows that even one hour of exercise a week is better for your health than doing nothing. You don't have to slog through an hour long sweat fest, says AHA. Start with a 10-minute walk today. Every day, try to walk a little bit longer. 

Fill up on veggies

The AHA recommends eating four to five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. If you don't normally eat many fruits and veggies, try to have at least one serving with each meal. Some ideas:
*Top your cereal with fresh berried or bananas
*Order double veggies on your sandwich
*Add chopped onions, celery or other vegetables to a stew or sauce
*Have fruit for dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth instead of baked goods or ice cream

Check labels

Get in the habit of looking at the nutrition label on packaged foods. You may be surprised at just how much sodium or fat some packaged foods contain. By checking the label, you can be more aware of what you're eating and make better choices.

Watch your sodium

Too much sodium increases blood pressure, which makes your heart work harder. The AHA recommends that Americans should consume less than 1,500mg of sodium each day. That's not much. One teaspoon of salt has 2,300mg of sodium, for example. About 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from packaged, processed foods, which is why checking labels is so important. A healthy lifestyle may seem like a big task, but small changes made consistently can add up to a healthier, more active you.

 

Posted 2:23 PM  View Comments

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