February Heart Awareness Month – Pt 2

In Part Two of this story on February being Heart Awareness Month, Highland Medical Center Nurse/Practitioner Taylor Lightner talks about the importance of exercise and diet to heart health.

“When I’m talking to people about heart health, if you have a heart condition, you know we may be a little more hesitant on talking about, ‘We want you to go out there and get cardiovascular exercise.’ We do want to promote that, but that may be a more of a gentle regimen, or something you just want to talk to me or provider about specifically. But for the general population, we really want to stress the importance of 30 minutes a day of cardiovascular activity.”

“So cardiovascular activity, it can be measured by your heart rate. Some people do or don’t check their heart rate on, like, watches and phones and all that stuff. But you don’t have to do that, and I don’t do that. It’s more of a, you want to kind of be moving. So if you can kind of work up a little bit of a sweat over a 30 minute time period – for some people that’s gardening, for some people that’s getting out and walking – I love to do that. Going on a jog, biking, we don’t have a lot of swimming around here but, you know, that’s a great way to do it.”

“We want to promote the working of the heart in a productive way, so it’s pushing and pumping blood flow, and also creating relaxation of vessels. So your overall getting greater oxygen to everything in your body, and just kind of promoting the heart healthiness.”

“Dietary again, this can change depending on if you have a certain condition, you want to talk to somebody about specifics on diet should I follow. Generally, we want everyone to follow a diet to where they’re not necessarily gaining weight, and they’re not necessarily losing weight, if that’s not what we need, but we want to stay within the parameters of a healthy BMI, which the BMI is a measure of your weight per height. And sometimes I don’t like it, because I’m like, well, it really doesn’t account for muscle mass or things like that. But that’s what the health community uses as a standard for healthy weight. So we like to maintain our BMI in a certain range. And to achieve that, of course, you want to have a balanced diet.”

“Of course, this is going to be different for different individuals. If you feel like I’m a vegetarian for these reasons, then there’s  workarounds. But in general, a healthy balanced diet is you’re eating the natural food groups. So we’re talking about vegetables and fruits, we’re talking about carbohydrates, but we are really aiming toward more fibrous components of carbohydrates, so more like wheat bread, oats, things like that. And then we like dairy and, you know, we can talk about different types, you know, high fat, low fat, those kind of things. But overall, we want to have a well balanced diet within a good calorie count. So you’re not really exceeding the input that you’re taking in, so what you’re eating isn’t necessarily higher than what you’re expending through exercise activity, how you spend calories day to day.”

“We want to make that balanced, and make sure that the quality of foods you’re getting is calories that matter, and they’re gonna give you appropriate energy. A lot of times I’ll tell patients, the best way to shop is the perimeter of the grocery store instead of the aisles, because the aisles are all the packaged things are. The thing I don’t like about packaged foods is, a lot of times, it’ll have a lot of carbohydrates, sugars in there, but it’s not really balanced by things that make it last long, which are proteins and fiber – fiber makes your calories last a little longer. I like to avoid those as much as possible. You know, chips, crackers, cookies, the good stuff , and aim more towards fruits, vegetables, meats. If you’re vegetarian, beans and rice are the perfect combo because it actually gives you all the proteins you need. But yeah, just kind of stick to the things that are a little bit more natural, earth-given, that our bodies are going to consume and use and use  well, not kind of create an excess overload of stuff that just sits there.”

“Unused calories become fat, so we want to avoid that because it weighs us down and actually weighs down our heart, weighs down our lungs, it weighs down our vasculature. So that’s what we want to encourage.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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