Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. The American Heart Association reports that more than one in three adult men and adult women have some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In 2010, CVD took the lives of 387,318 men and 400,332 women in the USA alone.
Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Your heart needs as much protection as possible as you age. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle requires awareness, commitment and effort. Here are some tips to help your heart keep beating for a very long time:
1. Know Your Numbers
Know what your BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol (LDL/HDL and triglycerides), and blood sugar numbers are. Your numbers point to areas of concern that can be addressed with lifestyle changes, as well as help monitor personal health changes from year to year. Many heart attacks occur among people with normal cholesterol levels. Your numbers do not tell the whole story, but they are a great place to start. Type 2 diabetes can be managed once you know you have it, so get your numbers and keep them all within the healthy range via new behavioral choices and your doctor's assistance.
2. Weight Matters
A healthy weight for you personally does not mean being thin, but it does mean reaching and maintaining a healthy weight for your height, age, body type and gender. Excess body fat around the middle is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. As we age, the midsection is where extra pounds tend to accumulate. In addition, some body types naturally hold weight in the waist/abdominal area. The goal is to reach your individual target weight and measurements in a healthy manner. Eating less sodium, saturated fats and processed foods will help your waistline and your heart. Load up on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Add complex carbohydrates like whole grains and oatmeal, low fat dairy and drink plenty of water. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
3. Exercise Regularly
For those who are healthy enough to exercise, varied and consistent activity helps protect and strengthen your heart. There are many ways to benefit from movement. Walking, cleaning, mopping, mowing, raking, vacuuming, climbing stairs and doing daily tasks that get your heart rate up and help you break a sweat are good ways to exercise. Stretching, weight lifting, running, walking, bicycling, yoga and exercise classes are more structured ways to work out. A combination of tasks and workouts done throughout the week and continued over time will bring great health benefits. Exercise reduces appetite and stress while improving quality of sleep. Do exercise earlier in the day for sound sleep benefits.
4. Manage Stress
Stress is hard on your body and your heart. Chronic stress increases heart rate and raises cortisol levels, burns out your adrenal system and negatively affects your mood, attitude, digestion, sleep, concentration and happiness. Stress is a part of our busy lives,however, stress should not take over your life. Good time management skills, a good support system, deep breathing, taking time out of every day for enjoyment and relaxation, eating healthy meals throughout the day and daily activity are all great ways to help reduce stress.
5. Love Your Life
A good attitude, a sense of gratitude and spending time with loved ones is good for your health, your happiness and your heart. Volunteering, painting, writing, photography or being outdoors in nature can increase your sense of wellbeing and connection to life. When you love your life, your heart health will benefit!
By taking great care of your heart, you will stress less, feel better, enjoy life and take time to do all the things you love with the people you care about. You'll also swing the statistics in your favor.
Vikki Q CTTS-M