Tips for Maintaining Heart Health
The heart is arguably the body’s most essential organ when it comes to your health. Beating around 100,000 times a day, the heart pumps blood to the entire body, allowing other organs to do their jobs effectively. There are many aspects to keeping your heart healthy, and it’s important to incorporate all of them into your daily lifestyle.
Making good food choices can go a long way in maintaining heart health. Opt for foods that are low in sodium and saturated fat, but high in fiber. Fill your diet with green, leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and low-fat protein, all of which provide nutrients to keep your heart beating strong. Be aware of your portion sizes and pre-plan your menu to ensure you are eating heart-healthy foods.
Make Exercise a Habit
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week for adults. Find an exercise you enjoy doing—whether it be walking, tennis, dancing, biking or any of the countless other forms of cardiovascular exercise. Schedule time to exercise in your weekly plans; hold yourself accountable by writing it down or taking a class.
Smoking cigarettes can cause long-lasting damage to the heart. Smoking has been found to increase one’s heart rate and restrict major arteries, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the body. Smokers also have an increased chance of having a stroke. The advice here is simple: if you smoke, take steps to quit.
Learn to Manage Stress
Excessive stress can be detrimental to heart health if it isn’t managed properly. People who are over-stressed often make poor choices, like overeating, drinking too much alcohol or being inactive for long periods of time. These unhealthy choices put them at an increased risk for high blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. If you are often stressed, find a stress reliever that works for you (yoga, connecting with a friend, etc.) and use it.