Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. It knows no age, no race, no color, no creed. It’s indiscriminate in how it affects people. With the statistics as they are, how do you reduce your chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease? The answer is you do everything within your power to ward off this deadly disease and to ensure you get to live a long, happy life.
There are seven important behaviors you must adapt to help reduce your risk of suffering from heart disease. None are too time-consuming. Each is worth the little effort you have to put in it. The goal is small changes. They can mean the difference between living a full, healthy, active life or suffering unnecessarily from something that was almost entirely preventable.
If you’re ready to get a jumpstart on your heart health or want to reverse some of the damage you may have already inflicted, follow these seven supersimple tips:
Get regular exercise. That’s a mantra we’ve all heard before, but never have the benefits of moderate exercise a few times per week ever been so essential than when it comes to keeping your heart strong. Regular exercise enhances the cardiorespiratory system in your body. It helps it to maintain its function without having to strain itself. It increases the good cholesterol in your system, which is the only kind of cholesterol you want to promote in your body. It lowers triglycerides that circulate in the blood. Exercise also helps to reduce blood pressure and your heart rate. Yes, that sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but the idea here is to increase your heart-rate to optimal levels for you, then, decrease at a pace that isn’t jarring to your system. If your heart is always ramped up (above the range recommended for your age, weight, and sex), you’re running the risk of taxing the heart muscle; thus, creating an environment for major heart damage. The goal is to aim for 150 or moderate exercise a week. No excuses.
Eat right. Nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and many other foods are considered good-for-you foods. Read labels. Learn which foods you should avoid. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Avoid rich oils and processed foods. They can be high in trans fats. Stop eating fast-food.
Find ways to reduce your blood pressure like losing weight, moderate your alcohol consumption, exercise. Speak to a physician and discuss methods to reduce your blood pressure. There are many tips and techniques to get things moving in the right direction. For some, that might mean taking up yoga. For others, it could be Tai Chi or a dance class. Do whatever works, if it’s not detrimental in other ways.
Eat foods that will help you reduce your cholesterol like fatty fish, walnuts, almonds, soybeans, and soy milk. Serve them with your meals or as a hearthealthy snack. Don’t smoke. Smoking is horrible for you. Have a conversation with your kids about the dangers of smoking. Smoking does irreparable damage to your body. Your heart sustains the most damage every time you take a puff. It narrows your arteries, puts extra pressure on your heart and lungs, damages every cell in your body, stains your teeth, and countless other unpleasant issues that should frighten anyone who thinks they want to pick up a cigarette.
Find out what your blood sugar rate is. Know your numbers and, if risk factors are present, learn your child’s numbers. It’s better to know where you stand, then to cross your fingers and hope everything is okay. Ask the doctor to run a blood test for you to check.
Maintain a healthy weight for your body type. Again, know your numbers and do what you can to keep your weight under control. That doesn’t always mean a diet. It can mean eat better, exercise more, exercise differently. Maybe instead of increasing the cardio, try weight-training or vice versa. Make sure your numbers are good for you and, more importantly, make sure they’re good for your overall health as well. You don’t want to jump onboard with a fitness routine that isn’t good for you. Some may be too difficult to try or to maintain. Some may not work your heart muscle enough. Maintain a healthy balance between where your resting heart-rate is and where your heart-rate should be while exercising. Try not to go out of that range to ensure your heart will continue to function properly. The bottom line is to make sure you do whatever you can to maintain your child’s heart health. You never want to hear that your child is sick or in danger because of something that could have been preventable.
By Sharon Lowell