You don’t have to live in Calgary, Canada, to worry about heart disease. It’s one of the leading causes of death in many developed countries. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by making lifestyle changes to include healthy habits for your heart. Some of those changes make a huge difference and require a bit more dedication, while others are quite simple and easy to do.
Start by getting a physical and learning your numbers.
In order to accomplish anything, you have to set goals and setting a goal requires a starting point, so you can map out how to reach the desired outcome. Getting a physical will help you learn your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and glucose levels. It’s especially important to know the breakdown of cholesterol and how high your HDL—good cholesterol—and LDL—bad cholesterol—levels are. You can also check with your doctor at that time to see if making dietary changes and starting an exercise program is safe.
Learn to eat heart healthy and practice what you learn.
Eating healthy isn’t dieting and it doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love. It does mean you need to cut back on unhealthy food, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a favorite once in a while. Just make sure your diet includes foods that promote heart health, such as lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus a lean source of protein. Switch from processed white flour bread to whole grains.
In today’s world, there are many labor saving devices and modern inventions, which is good and bad. The refrigerator and refrigerated cars allow us to eat nutritious fresh food year around. However, many of today’s inventions, cut down or eliminate the physical activity that’s necessary for good health. The American Heart Association says that adults require at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, which would include things like dancing or a brisk walk. If you switch it up to a more strenuous activity, such as running, working out or jumping rope, then the time is reduced to 75 minutes a week. Following my workouts every day can fill that need.
- Get adequate sleep. You’ll not only increase your risk of heart disease if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll also risk weight gain, since lack of sleep reduces the amount of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full.
- Learn to relax. Meditation, breathing techniques and even a quiet time can help reduce blood pressure and keep your heart healthier.
- If excess weight is a problem, lose weight. By eating healthy and increasing your exercise time, it may occur naturally. Enjoy both the benefit of a healthier heart and a great looking body.
- Increase your daily activity. Even if you workout regularly, sitting for longer than an hour can take its toll. Take a break. Find ways to boost your activity, such as taking the stairs or walking to lunch.
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