Heart of the Valley: Harlingen trainer discusses how fitness and nutrition can reduce your risk of heart disease, strokes

By: Stefany Rosales

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Taking preventative measures are key to keeping your heart healthy.

For Rebekah Forbes, a trainer at Gentry Gym in Harlingen, keeping people strong and healthy is her priority.

“As you get stronger, your body feels better,” Forbes said. “When they've come in and been consistent for a month or six weeks, and they tell me, ‘Man, that pain that I used to have in my hip is gone.’”

While it can be tough for some people to get started or to keep going to the gym, Forbes’ advice is to set small goals.

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Forbes says exercise offers many benefits like keeping a healthy heart, but it's only one piece to the puzzle. Nutrition also plays a big role.

Registered dietician and nutritionist Lisa Salinas says changes to your lifestyles can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. She recommends starting by adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet. 

“We talk about salt in the diet,” Salinas said. “So in the U.S. what we tend to do is consume too much sodium and not enough potassium. If you have too much sodium as somebody who is already at high risk for high blood pressure, it does the opposite. It does not support good cardiovascular health and good blood pressure health."

It's never too late to start finding small ways to incorporate those fruits and veggies into your diet. Salinas recommended people start by making smoothies or soups. 

Whether it's eating or exercise, the advice is the same: Start small and work towards a goal.

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