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By Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD

While a commitment to a healthy heart is a lifelong one — some positive habits to achieve that goal take just a few minutes a day. It’s what I call building your personal BEAM box: Behavior, Eating, Activity and Medical Care. And every tool counts!

The hardest part is always getting started, but it’s important because heart disease is the number one killer of women.

In honor of American Heart Health Month, choose one or two activities you can stick to every day and build on those. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to stay heart healthy, and these tips come with a bonus: they’re also good for your overall health. I’m hoping these ideas will help you think up some of your own two minute fixes!

B-EHAVIOR (Mind-Body)

-Call a friend just to say hello and catch up (not for a specific reason).

-Have a cup of herbal tea and put your feet up.

-Take 10 deep breaths. Then do it again.

-Make a list of the positives in your day – a gratitude journal.

-Listen to a favorite song.

-Look out the window at greenery (or go outside if you can).

E-ATING

-Microwave and eat frozen veggies.

-Peel and eat a banana (or any fresh fruit).

-Eat a handful of nuts.

-Choose lean or extra lean cuts of red meat – think “loin” or “round.”

-Swap an animal protein for a plant source – like tofu (soy) or lentils.

-Review your eating habits – cut back on saturated fats like fatty meats and full fat dairy.

A-CTIVITY

Take a lap around your home or office floor once an hour.

Do some deep knee bends or stand on one leg when you brush your teeth.

Dance during the commercials of your favorite show.

Practice good posture - sit up straight (fitness)

M-EDICAL CARE

-Plan your day to allow for 7 hours of sleep (no fewer than 6).

-Take your blood pressure.

-Know your key health numbers (blood cholesterol and sugar).

-Check to see if your immunizations are up to date.

-Identify a primary care doctor and follow up yearly.

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D. is the NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.

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