The best way you can take care of your heart is by living a healthy lifestyle.
While that may seem like it is obvious, more and more people fail to live a healthy lifestyle, and many folks aren’t exactly sure what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. In essence, living a healthy lifestyle means doing things each day that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Here are 10 things you can do everyday to take care of your heart:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet including:
- Whole grains (replace white bread with whole grain)
- Eat and snack on fresh fruits and vegetables
- Omega-3 rich fatty fish (ideally twice per week)
- Low-fat dairy
- Replace saturated/trans fats with unsaturated fats (less than 10% daily consumption)
- Cut out processed foods (any packaged snacks, boxed food)
- Limit sugar (less than 10% of daily consumption)
- Reduce your salt intake (less than 2,300 milligrams per day)
- Avoid fried foods and unhealthy fast food choices
- Nuts and seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Switch from white rice to brown rice/add quinoa to your diet
- Lean meats (good choices – chicken and turkey)
- Limit alcohol (1 drink per day for women, 2 for men)
- Cut out sugary beverages (soda, fruit juice)
- Drink plenty of water (divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces per day) take a water bottle with you wherever you go
- Be physically active
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes of cardio exercise per week (30 minutes x 5 days). Great options are brisk walking, cycling and swimming. Avoid long periods of sitting. If you have a desk job, schedule short walking breaks throughout the day. Consider getting a standing desk. Take the stairs sometimes.
- Maintain a healthy weight
If you are overweight, see number 1 and 2 above to work toward a healthier weight for your heart.
- Control cholesterol/diabetes
If you don’t know your cholesterol and glucose numbers get them checked. Some people have diabetes and aren’t aware of it. If you do have diabetes, everything on this list will be beneficial.
- Manage blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure, talk with your doctor about what lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, weight management etc.) you need to make and if you need medication.
- Annual checkup
Make sure that you are getting an annual checkup to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels and talking about any health concerns. Your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist if you have heart issues. You may need to visit the doctor/cardiologist more often than once per year.
- Control stress
To the best of your ability, try to control the stress in your life. If you are having mental and emotional stress, consult with a mental health professional for coping mechanisms to lower your stress. Yoga, regular exercise and meditation can help to lower stress.
- Get enough sleep
Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Both quantity and quality sleep matter. If you are having regular interrupted sleep, you may have sleep apnea which can affect your heart. If you do have sleep apnea there is a device that you can wear while sleeping for better quality rest.
- Quit smoking/avoid second-hand smoke
If you smoke, you are probably aware that you should quit for a healthier heart. Both regular cigarettes and elctronic cigarettes are bad for your heart. Also, everyone should avoid being around second-hand smoke.
- Set personal goals
Most people will have at least one thing on this list that they can work on. Set some personal goals for yourself and when you accomplish them be sure to celebrate!