Heart Health Tips: How to Keep It Strong and Steady
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The sad fact is that the majority of heart problems could be prevented by lifestyle changes, but many people are not willing to alter habits even if it means a healthier life. Here are some things you can do to ensure your heart remains an ally and not an adversary.
Eating well does not mean eating poorly. In fact, heart-healthy food is some of the best food available, but for many people years of eating the wrong things have caused detrimental changes to their appetite for healthful food. Once you realign your habits, your body begins to crave that which you really need. First of all, eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. If you need to snack, these are the foods to reach for. Frozen fruits and vegetables are also fine, as well as low-sodium canned vegetables and fruit canned in juice or water but sugar syrup. Other heart-friendly foods are whole grain bread and cereals, lean meat, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, low-fat dairy products and legumes. Avoid food rich in sodium, saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol. For healthy fats, use olive oil, canola oil and margarine free from trans fats.
Regular physical exercise reduces your risk of heart disease. Exercising for at least 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week gives your heart a great tune-up. A gym workout is fine, but if you are not the type that likes to hit the gym, there are many alternatives. A good walk is not only healthy, but inspiring and invigorating. If you do not like to walk alone, take a walk with your child or grandchild, or walk the dog. When shopping, park a few blocks away and walk the rest of the distance. Try jogging, cycling or swimming. You should also remember that activities such as gardening, housekeeping and taking the stairs instead of the elevator all contribute towards your exercise total.
Being overweight greatly increases your risk of heart disease. Calculate your body mass index, see where you stand, and determine to get it down to a healthy percentage. When you consider the risks of the unhealthy alternative, it is worth the willpower expenditure to see your weight-loss plan through. The first step is to educate yourself. Find out how many calories you can safely take in on a daily basis, and stick to the limit. Combine a reduced calorie intake with increased exercise regimen so that you burn up more than you ingest. It might help you to keep a food diary in the beginning, so you can keep track of your progress.
Manage Your Stress
Stress is the way your body responds to change. When something threatens you, your body releases adrenaline, which causes your heart rate to increase and your blood pressure to rise. However, when stress becomes constant or chronic it takes a toll on your health and can exacerbate heart problems. To manage stress, you need to avoid people and situations that bother you, slow down your lifestyle, get enough rest, and organize yourself to approach necessary work and activities calmly and methodically.
Smoking or using any type of tobacco greatly increases your risk of heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco damage your heart and blood vessels, and carbon monoxide in the smoke replaces healthy oxygen in your blood. The good news is that as soon as you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease soon drops down to near that of a non-smoker.
Heart health awareness is the first step toward making the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent heart disease. Next, you need determination and discipline. Start today for a healthier future.