10 Easy Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
In today’s society it is extremely easy to get consumed by a sedentary lifestyle and an unbalanced diet.
About one-half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease: smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. A Mediterranean diet is one of the healthy eating plans recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote health and prevent chronic disease (3). The main components of this diet include daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats with limited intake of red meat.
- Limit certain foods. Certain foods that have added sugar, salt, or fat is best to be avoided. Packaged food will mostly consist of these unwanted additives. Saturated and trans-fat should be avoided as much as possible.
- Go for more fish. American Heart Association recommends to have fish which is rich in unsaturated fats at least twice a week (4). They contain omega-3 which benefits the heart health and reduce the risk of dying of heart disease.
- Get Physical. Getting physical strengthens your heart and improves body circulation. Physical exercise does not have to be an hour a day. You can start with 10 minutes of walking or jogging and increase your way up.
- Cut back on alcohol. Remember your serving size! You can choose not to drink or drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less per day for women.
- Don’t sit for too long at one time. Especially with COVID, we have become used to sitting around more often. Set a timer for every 30 minutes to an hour to get yourself moving around (5).
- Get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep enough, you may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits. Try to aim for 6-8 hours most nights of the week.
- Quit smoking. This is definitely harder said than done but if you want to keep your heart healthy than this would be a great goal to start with. There are many resources that may help you quit that would benefit you and your family.
- Get a physical. Schedule a yearly check up with your doctor. Ask your doctor to help you reach or maintain a healthy goal you may have in mind.
- Stay positive! It’s okay if you get off your exercise schedule, have a cigarette, or eat a high fat meal. Just get right back up and keep trying.
It can be tough to make all these changes to get your heart healthy. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Focusing on one or two changes is enough to work on until you feel comfortable to move on to more changes. Making changes can be fun especially working on it together as a family. Going to the farmers market with your family and seeing the different colors of fresh fruit and vegetables may possibly be a first step to improving healthy habits.