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We all know that taking care of your heart is an important part of living a healthy life; however, it can be easier said than done. Keeping the heart healthy means avoiding unwanted plaque build-up, heart attacks, blockages, and cardiac death. Keeping your heart healthy also means making sure your heart will continue to work for as long as you’re alive.
So if you want to know what are the best practices on how to keep your heart healthy and strong, here is our list:
Best Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Get Some Heart Healthy Exercises
Getting in some healthy heart exercises each day is a good way to keep you away from heart diseases. Being active can help control risk factors such as high blood pressure, as well as helping you to reach and maintain a healthy weight. For the best heart benefits, 30 minutes of moderate activity such as brisk walking on most if not all days of the week. Walking is an all-around great exercise for lowering blood sugar level, losing weight, building strength and stamina.
Regular exercise not only burns calories but also protects our heart. It can improve your muscle strength and helps your cardiovascular system work efficiently. It also lower your risk for developing plaque that can clog your arteries and reduce blood flow to your heart which causes heart attack. According to Mayo Clinic, these are the health benefits of exercise:
- Controls weight
- Combats health conditions, chronic diseases and cancer
- Improves mood
- Boosts energy
- Promotes better sleep
Regular, daily physical activity can lower your risk of heart disease. Physical activity helps you control your weight and reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
Just five minutes of moving can help, and activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs and walking the dog all count toward your total. You don’t have to exercise strenuously to achieve benefits. If you haven’t been active for a while, you should take it slowly by aiming these goals:
- 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace
- 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running
- Two or more strength training sessions a week
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
A heart healthy diet forms the foundation of fighting heart disease. Eating well can help you maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels while also reducing your risk of obesity and diabetes.
A heart healthy diet eating plan includes:
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains (oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and brown rice)
- low-fat milk and cheese or rice milk
- seafood, lean meats, beans and seeds.
- legumes and nuts
- replaces butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
The DASH Diet plan and Mediterranean diet are two examples of heart-healthy food plans particularly encouraged by the US Mayo Clinic because it limits the following:
- red meat
- Processed carbohydrates
- drinks and foods with added sugars
- saturated fats found in meat and full-fat dairy products, and
- trans fats found in found in fried fast food, chips, baked goods
Keep your heart healthy and strong so that it can efficiently pump more blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to other parts of your body.
One of the best things you can do for your heart is to stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco. Even if you’re not a smoker, be sure to avoid secondhand smoke.
You can help protect your heart and blood vessels, avoiding tobacco is one of the best. According to American Heart Association, being exposed to tobacco smoke brings heart disease and lung cancer diseases deaths due to chemicals released from cigarette smoke which helps of building up plaque in your arteries. Every time you inhale cigarette smoke, your heart rate and blood pressure go up temporarily. That puts extra stress on your heart and forces it to work harder. If you smoke, quit. We know it’s tough. But it’s tougher to recover from a heart attack or stroke or to live with chronic heart disease.
If you have heart disease, it’s not too late to make a difference. If you give up cigarettes after a heart attack, you can cut your risk of having a second one in half. Quitting after you’ve had bypass surgery can keep your arteries healthy and help prevent further clogs and disease.
- On Day 1, cut the number of cigarettes you smoke by half
- On Day 3, cut the number of cigarettes you smoke in half again
- And on Day 5, cut your smoking in half again
- On your Quit Day… quit!
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese is unhealthy. The more you gain weight, the higher your BMI, the higher the risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It also causes you at risk of:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- breathing problems
- liver disease
- gallbladder disease and even cancer.
One way to see if your weight is healthy is to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which uses your height and weight to determine whether you have a healthy or unhealthy percentage of body fat. A BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight and is generally associated with higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Maintaining a healthy weight can make a big impact on your heart, but it doesn’t have to mean a drastic overhaul to your lifestyle. Making healthy food choices combined with regular exercise is the best way to lose weight. Set short term goals for yourself to help keep things in perspective. Track your daily food intake with a food diary or app, and use it to find ways to make small healthy changes that can save you calories. And don’t forget to celebrate your progress! Find healthy ways to reward yourself for achieving your goals.
Sex offers more than a feeling of intimacy or pleasure, it also offers incredible health benefits, Besides the emotional aspects and feelings of well being, it can be good for your heart.
According to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, men who had sex at least twice a week were less likely to develop heart disease compared to men who only had sex once per month.
Own a Pet
Having a pet doesn’t just make our lives fuller, it may also make our lives longer. Spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and blood pressure and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institue of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that patients with a dog or a cat tend to have better recovery rates.
Do Act of Kindness
Being kind to others causes our oxytocin levels to rise and our cortisol levels to drop. When cortisol, our stress hormone, increases, our blood pressure and inflammation rises. Oxytocin, on the other hand, powers our cortisol levels and helps improve our health.
The next time you get angry, think twice and counteract your emotion with benevolence. Doing good deeds every day may just be what you need to improve your health and happiness.
Have Enough Sleep
A good night’s sleep is an important part of keeping your heart healthy. In fact, poor quality sleep increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and can be a point of concern for those living with cardiovascular disease. If you don’t get enough sleep, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes – these 3 things can raise your risk of heart disease. Researchers believe that those people who slept fewer than 6 hours per night were likely to have a stroke or heart attack rather than those who slept 6 to 8 hours per night.
Have Regular Heart Check Up
One of the most important things you can do is see your doctor for a regular check-up or annual physical. Regular blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, physical exams and having a chat about your lifestyle risk factors, all of which can be done as part of a routine or annual check-up – are important to keep your heart healthy. Make sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations including taking prescribed medications as directed.
Lifestyle changes are the key to living a healthy, happy life. Knowing what can you do to keep your heart healthy is a good start. Starting today, begin taking these simple ways toward heart health.