Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States? That’s a really good reason to ensure you have a healthy heart for life. Whether you’d like to have a healthy heart for yourself or your family, or maybe you’d just like to feel better, ensuring heart health is easier than you think and begins with simple steps to improve this most important muscle in your body!
So what changes can you make today to ensure that your heart is healthy for the future?
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Your heart beats about 35 million times every year. Wow! That’s some serious overtime. However, your heart can’t properly do its job if you don’t eat healthy. A diet heavy in dairy, meats, and trans fats is the worst one for your heart. That last one might be hard to avoid, as hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils tend to be in many processed foods. Your best bet is to stick to whole foods. Snack on apples and carrots instead of chips or crackers. Buy meats from local farmers rather than at a commercial grocery store. Grow your own vegetables or choose organic at the store. Remember, your meals should be mostly plant based with a small serving of meat. Fish and lean proteins like beans are even better!
Did you know that an inactive lifestyle can double your risk of heart disease? Exercise has many health benefits besides helping your heart—it can lower blood pressure, boost your mood, help you manage your weight, and improve cholesterol. There are many great reasons to get in shape! What types of exercise are good for your heart?
It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about what types of exercise would be appropriate for you before beginning a regimen, but start with what you like. Wish you spent more time outside? Take a walk on your lunch break. Hike on the weekends. Enjoy swimming? Sign up with a local club. Enjoy more high-intensity exercise? Try jogging, cycling, or playing a team sport with friends. There are so many different things you can do, from yoga to tennis to weights. The point is to just get moving!
It’s not easy to manage stress, but when you exercise, you’re actually training your body to better handle stress, including the muscle that is your heart. Stress impacts your body more than you think—from raising blood pressure to overeating to maybe even triggering a desire to smoke, stress is not your body’s friend. How can you manage stress?
First, if you smoke, now is a great time to quit. If you tend to overeat when you’re stressed, pay more attention to your emotional connection with food. Exercising, meditating, talking with a friend, and even limiting your intake of caffeine can help you to manage your stress. As you can see, things like eating well, exercising, and managing stress all go together when it comes to heart health!
Be at Your Best Weight
Being overweight can lead to other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and clogging of the arteries with plaque (also known as atherosclerosis). All of these things combined can put you at risk for heart disease. With two out of every three Americans being considered overweight or obese, many people are no strangers to the problem of weight loss.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be complicated. By managing your stress, exercising, and eating healthy, you can begin to shed the pounds. Being at your best weight puts less strain on your heart, reduces your risk for high blood pressure and diabetes, and can help you feel your best. Talk with your doctor about how you can begin your journey to lose weight and get your heart healthy for life!
Having a healthy heart isn’t difficult, but you have to commit to having healthy habits. These include eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking, and talking to your doctor about how you can manage your stress and lose weight. A healthy heart means a healthy you—for life!