5 Steps to a Healthy Heart
Your heart is your hardest working muscle, pumping blood throughout your body. And just like any muscle, it can be subject to fatigue, especially if it has been weakened by a number of cardiovascular diseases.
Here are quick tips to avoid heart disease and the possibility of someday needing a heart transplant.
1. Don’t smoke.
You’ve probably seen public service announcements showing what can happen to someone who smokes and who loses normal function of his or her heart (let alone their lungs). When you consider that chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure and, ultimately, a heart attack, it’s worth remembering that even being a so-called “light smoker” endangers your heart health. And do your best to avoid second-hand smoke.
2. Exercise regularly.
Make time in your busy schedule for yourself, including your health! An exercise regimen shouldn’t be a burden, even if you don’t join a gym. Something as simple as taking a 30 minute walk at a brisk pace three days a week gets your heart beating faster. It could be a way of discovering different parts of your neighborhood! Social exercise is also an incentive — find a relative or friend to accompany you on your walks.
3. Follow a sensible diet.
While diet fads come and go, the best advice to maintain a healthy heart is to eat sensibly. Eat fish, lean meats and poultry, fresh vegetables and fruit. And though you may think all fats are bad, the Mayo Clinic points out that “healthy fats from plant-based sources, such as avocado, nuts, olives and olive oil, help your heart by lowering the bad type of cholesterol.” [Unrelated to the Mayo Clinic, you may want to monitor current research that points to the value of small portions of red meat, egg yolks and butter.] At the same time, increase your intake of fish oil, especially high grade omega-3 fatty acids. Yes, in most instances, a glass of wine is good for the heart; however, when you have your blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol tested, ask your doctor how many glasses of wine you can safely enjoy each week.
4. Get a good night’s sleep.
Studies continue to confirm that sleep deprivation doesn’t only make you feel sluggish and unlikely to want to be active, it can also lead to weight increase. As you know, being overweight is in itself a major cause of a range of illnesses, including heart disease. Make sure, as far as possible, you get to sleep around the same time every night and wake up at the same time — weekends included. The old rule that eight hours sleep is best for you still applies! The bottom line: Restful sleep can provide a solid defense against coronary disease.
5. Avoid stress.
Yes, it may be easier said than done, but make every effort to avoid stress both at home and at work. There are many options to lead a more serene life. You can do deep breathing exercises that originate in your abdomen and learn some other basic meditation techniques. Find time to partake in fun activities, like listening to music, reading or starting a new hobby. Connecting with others, including trusted relatives and friends, can help to de-stress you. These activities are good for your overall well-being, as well as your heart health!
Source for hint number 3: The Mayo Clinic — http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502
All material in this newsletter and on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.