Heart Healthy Advice from Cardiologist Moms


By: , – Jeannette Moninger, Family Circle
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Find Reasons to Move
Sharonne Hayes, M.D., has a demanding schedule as director of the Mayo Clinic Women's Heart Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, which leaves scant time for hourlong workouts. So she makes an effort to get her physical activity in shorter increments throughout the day. "Studies show you reap the same health benefits in 10-minute bursts of activity," she says. She shuns the elevator for stairs, and you won't find her cruising the mall parking lot looking for a spot close to the entrance. "I'm an opportunistic exerciser. I fit it in whenever and wherever I can," she says—and so do her kids. This summer Dr. Hayes' 13-year-old son skipped the carpool and rode his bike to swim team practices. In the evening the entire family catches up on favorite TV shows while lifting weights or using cardio machines in their exercise room. "When the kids see my husband and me being active, it inspires them to join in," says Dr. Hayes. "Plus, it's a great way to spend time together as a family." 
Skip the Kids' Meals
Slow-cooker meals and dishes prepared on the weekends make it easier for Stephanie Coulter, M.D., associate director of noninvasive cardiology at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, to get dinner on the table in a hurry during the week. But eating at home isn't always practical when one of her daughters has an evening sporting event. On those nights, the family makes it an occasion by dining at a restaurant, not a fast-food joint. Her 11- and 9-year-old girls will split a salad and grilled chicken from the adult menu. "I steer the girls away from the kids' meals, which are usually fried and loaded with fat, calories and salt," says Dr. Coulter. "Having them share the generally healthier adult entree is a smarter, and often more economical, way to go."
Buy Farm-Fresh Fare
Once a week Rita Redberg, M.D., director of women's cardiovascular services at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco, and her family receive a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with occasional eggs, meats and dairy products, from local farmers via a community supported agriculture program (CSA). "We get seasonal produce that's bursting with great taste and nutrients, yet low in pesticides and other additives," she says. There are more than 1,000 CSA programs nationwide and those numbers keep growing. (If one's not available in your area, Dr. Redberg suggests patronizing your local farmers' markets instead.) Her daughters actually look forward to seeing what new or unusual veggies are included in the weekly CSA package.
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