10 Simple Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
February is known of course as the ‘love’ month, but did you know that February is also American Heart Month? It is, which is why we are sharing 10 simple ways you can keep your heart healthy. After all, a healthy heart is a happy heart!
1. Add exercise to your daily routine. Start walking 15 minutes, 3 times each week. If you start this new routine when a new month begins, by mid-month you’ll find that it is easier to increase your time to 30 minutes. Once you’re able to do this, continue your routine 3 times each week and increase your time goals.
2. Quit smoking. If you’re a smoker, we know this is easier said than done. However if you currently smoke, quitting can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke a great deal. Learn more at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Use.
3. Talk about heart health with your Doctor. Even when you’re feeling well, it’s important to schedule regular check-ups. Chat with your doctor and health care team to set goals for improving your heart health. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
4. Eat smart and make healthier choices. When you choose to live a heart healthy life style, this doesn’t mean you’re going on a diet or cannot ever enjoy the foods you love. Ditch the junk, discover healthier choices that will make the transition from unhealthy to healthy a little easier. You’ll see it’s not so bad once you give some other foods a chance.
5. Don’t sit for too long at one time. Researchers have learned that staying seated for long periods of time is bad for your health, no matter how much exercise you do. This is bad news for the many people who sit at sedentary jobs all day. Researchers also found that in those who sat the most, there was an associated 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events and a 90 percent increase in death caused by these events. In addition, sitting for long periods of time (especially when traveling) increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis, a.k.a. blood clots.
6. Eat healthy fats, not trans fats. Not all fats are bad, we actually need fats in our diet, including saturated and polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats. One fat we don’t need is trans fat, which is known to increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Cutting trans fats from your diet will improve the blood flow throughout your body.
7. Stay AWAY from secondhand smoke. Did you know that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work? It’s true! According to the American Heart Association, exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year. And nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart disease when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. Why, you ask? The chemicals from cigarette smoke promote potential plaque buildup in the arteries.
8. Read food labels. Sometimes foods we think may be healthy can actually be just the opposite, which is why it’s always a good ideas to read labels. Trans fat appears on the ingredients list as partially hydrogenated oils. When reading food labels, 0 percent trans fat is what you want to look for. Packaged baked goods and snack foods are the foods you really need to watch out for an eliminate from your diet.
9. Practice good dental hygiene. Bet you didn’t know that practicing good dental hygiene can decrease your risk for heart disease, did you? Those who have periodontal (gum) disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. Many studies have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. These changes may in turn, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Who knew?
10. Do more of what you love. That’s right, doing more of what you love and surrounding yourself by those you love can help reduce stress, which is ultimately an easy and healthy way to manage stress and keep your heart healthy and happy.
Want more tips on heart health, visit www.heart.org.