5 Things You Can Do Every Day To Keep Your Heart Healthy

5 Things You Can Do Every Day To Keep Your Heart Healthy

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Heart disease prevention can start at any age, and many families have begun to teach their children about healthy lifestyle choices early. February is Heart Health Month which is the perfect time of year to reinforce New Year’s resolutions of eating healthier and exercising. 

Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have wonderful tips for lowering your risk of developing heart disease. Here are five recommendations to keeping your heart healthy in everyday life:

  1. Eat healthy foods:  
    • Focus on consuming heart healthy foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol. These foods can help prevent high cholesterol. 
    • Utilize a meal plan that helps to reduce the amount of salt (sodium) and limits the amount of added sugar in your diet.
    • Minimize your alcohol consumption: increased alcohol consumption can lead to increases in your blood pressure. 
      • It is recommended that men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women no more than 1 drink per day.
  2. Get active:
    • Staying physically active can help maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
      • If you are not currently active, start by sitting less and moving more. This can be as simple as parking your car in a spot farthest from the entrance of the building or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
    • Current evidence recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day five times per week for adults. The recommendation for children is 60 minutes every day.
      • Examples of moderate intensity workouts include: brisk walking (at least 2.5 miles per hour), water aerobics, dancing, gardening, tennis (doubles), and biking slower than 10 miles per hour.
  3. Control your cholesterol and blood pressure: 
    • Knowing your cholesterol levels and maintaining a healthy diet can help arteries remain free of blockages. High levels of “bad cholesterol,” known as LDL, can lead to plaque forming in veins and arteries. This build up can result in heart disease and stroke.
      • To reduce your risk, control your cholesterol through exercise and reducing intake of animal products high in saturated fat, such as beef, pork, cream, and butter.
    • There are usually no signs or symptoms when you have high blood pressure, so it is important to have it checked on a regular basis.
    • If you have high blood pressure, your health care team will recommend lifestyle changes, and how frequently you should check your blood pressure.
  4. Live tobacco-free:
    • Use of tobacco products or secondhand smoke can greatly increase your risk of heart disease. If you do not currently use tobacco products, don’t start! If you currently smoke and need help quitting, reach out to your healthcare team and they can discuss different methods.
    • Avoid secondhand smoke when possible. Nonsmokers are 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer from exposure at home or work, according to a U.S. Surgeon General report.
  5. Manage stress:
    • While stress has not been directly linked to causing heart disease, it may lead to other behaviors, or factors, that increase your risk: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, overeating, or physical inactivity.
    • Learning techniques to manage stress will not only benefit your body, but also improve your quality of life.
      • Techniques to manage stress include: going for a walk, taking deep breaths, meditation sessions, breaking down big problems into smaller parts, listening to calming music, or working out.

Living a healthy lifestyle is the best way you can prevent or delay the development of heart disease or stroke. It is never too late to start eating healthy, getting active, controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure, living tobacco free, and managing your stress.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

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