How To Improve Your Heart Health

February 21, 2017

Heart disease scourges millions and is the leading cause of death nationwide among both men and women. Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined, and every 34 seconds someone in the United States experiences a heart attack.

On the surface, it seems bleak. However, many heart disease-related deaths are preventable. It requires a commitment to a lifestyle change. It means enacting healthy choices and sustaining it for the long-term. In recognition of American Heart Health Month, let’s cover some methods on how you can take a step toward a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Exercise Regularly

Lack of physical activity alone can raise your heart disease risk, even without other risk factors present. Inactivity often results in developing high blood pressure or diabetes, while raising your risk of becoming obese. All of which are obviously strenuous on your heart.

Aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do for the heart. Ultimately, you want to work your way up to at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week. Embrace sweat and get that heart pumping, whether it’s by running, walking, swimming, etc. Now, you don’t want to go from 0 to 100, so take it slow building an exercise regimen if you’re starting from scratch. Maybe start with a few 20-minute sessions a week and go from there.

Eat Better

Yes, carryout chicken wings are always tempting, but sticking to a robust, healthy eating plan impels great strides in keeping your heart healthy. Ensure that you’re consuming foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. A healthy diet comprises fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich whole grans, fish, nuts, legumes and seeds. Every now and then, try to eat some meals without meat.

How much you eat is also important. Be attentive of portion sizes in your meals. Overloading your plate and having seconds can lead to an excess of calories. Use small plates to control portions and keep track of the number of servings you eat.

Limit Alcohol Consumption & Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoking precipitously increases your risk for heart disease. If you currently don’t smoke, don’t start. If you currently smoke, implement a plan that steers you toward kicking the habit. The health benefits of quitting increase over time – after just one year of ceasing, your heart disease risk will drop by more than half.

Curtailing time spent imbibing is another surefire way to lessen your heart disease risk. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure, increase cardiomyopathy, or cause strokes, cancer, and other diseases. Moderation is key in avoiding these problems – it’s recommended to limit intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one per day for women.

Sleep Better

Shooting off to dreamland can also bolster your heart’s health. A study by the American Heart Association revealed a link between poor sleep quality and risk of high blood pressure – a potential conduit to heart disease. Another study showed that young and middle-age adults who slept seven hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who logged five hours or less.

The amount of sleep someone needs varies from person to person, but generally a quality six to eight hours of sleep each day is healthy, and too little or too much potentially increases the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Here’s to a healthy heart!