Being proactive about heart health doesn't have to add any stress to your busy daily life. In fact, paying closer attention to your cardiovascular health will actually reduce your stress levels. Other benefits of good heart health include lower blood pressure, reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases and cancer and better overall health.
Follow these five simple tips to get you started on the path to improved heart health.
Making better food choices can decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke as well as lower your cholesterol levels. Create a consistent weekly meal plan that includes three balanced meals per day. Eat plenty of fruits, green vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Instead of fatty red meat, prepare lean cuts of poultry and fish rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Finally, limit your sugar intake and choose low-fat dairy products.
Even for those with busy schedules, getting physically active isn't as difficult as it sounds. All it takes is 150 minutes of well-paced walking per week to get your heart pumping strong. That's only a little more than 20 minutes per day. Try getting those 20 minutes in during your lunch break or with a nightly family walk. Of course, you can always up the ante by establishing a weekly gym routine that combines both strength and cardiovascular training.
Along with a better diet and more exercise, shedding extra weight will have a serious positive effect on your heart. Carrying around extra fat—especially around your midsection—increases not only your risk for heart disease, but also for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes. The good news is that if you have already made the decision to eat right and exercise at least three or four times a week, those few extra pounds will soon melt away. Don't fall for fad diets or quick fixes—just eat healthily and stay active.
Keeping an eye on your blood pressure is another easy way to take care of your heart. High blood pressure puts you at a much higher risk for stroke and heart disease. Along with your new weekly meal plan and exercise routine, avoid salty foods and limit your alcohol consumption to help manage your blood pressure.
Finally, if you smoke, it's time to quit. Smoking has been directly linked to many types of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and other chronic lung diseases like COPD, stroke and high blood pressure. The benefits of quitting smoking are enormous and almost immediate. Not only will you feel better, but your heart will be healthier and your risk for a whole host of potentially fatal diseases will go down. That's a win-win-win for you, your heart and your family.
If you need more help getting started, take the AHA's My Life Check for a personalized heart assessment and access to healthy lifestyle tools to help get you and your family on the road to good heart health.
Posted: 2/28/2015 by
Filed under: Disease, Health, Heart, Prevention