Staying healthy is all-important, but staying heart healthy is vital in the most literal sense of the word. Keeping your heart beating long and strong should be one of your main goals. Heart disease remains a leading cause of death, but you can keep your heart in good shape for a long time with a few simple actions and exercises. Here’s the ultimate guide with tips for keeping your heart healthy to help you out.
Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
Your mother was right; you should always finish your fruits and vegetables. There’s no downside to eating leafy greens, carrots, avocados, berries, and other fruits and veggies. They provide you with nutrition, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and serve as fuel to help your body run at peak condition. Other foods are not so good. Red meat, pork, processed meats, processed foods in general, salty and oily snacks, and foods with saturated fats hurt your heart. The occasional indulgence isn’t so bad, but don’t overdo it. Eat your fruits and veggies, and your heart will thank you by staying in shape.
Where There’s Smoke
The next step in the ultimate guide of tips for keeping your heart healthy is an obvious one: don’t smoke. Don’t start, don’t hang out in places where there’s smoking, and generally steer clear of tobacco products. Just don’t. There’s an undeniable link between cardiovascular disease and smoking. When you smoke, you force your cardiovascular system to work extra hard, leading to a heart attack or even heart failure.
Meanwhile, you’re decreasing the amount of oxygen your body receives, making it harder to breathe. Also, you can damage other parts of your body. Quitting can start the healing process immediately as well.
The occasional drink can’t cause much harm, but overindulging is a sure way to hurt your heart and other parts of your body. Alcohol abuse can induce high blood pressure and cause injury to the heart, digestive system, nerves, and even the brain. Keep your drinks to a minimum or, better yet, skip the alcohol and stick to heart-healthy beverages.
We Can Work It Out
Exercise isn’t simply about looking good; it’s about giving your inner workings a workout as well. Your heart needs regular cardiovascular exercise. Each week, try to get two to three hours of exercise that raises your heart rate. Like any muscle, you need to push your heart a little harder occasionally to ensure it stays strong and can provide your entire body with oxygenated blood. And don’t think this is about training for the Olympics and pushing yourself to your physical limits. Take a swift walk, do a series of calisthenics, or perform some other simple exercises that get your heart pumping.
Mellow Out, Man
Stress is a big cause of heart disease and other physical conditions. If you’re constantly working, skimping on sleep, and otherwise not taking time to depressurize on occasion, you might be setting the stage for a heart attack or worse. Put aside some time for meditation, or, at the very least, let the things that work you up wait while you find some peace and quiet. Overwork is different than being efficient. Plot your work schedule so you can get things done without running yourself ragged. And take those vacation days; that’s what they’re for!
Drop a Few Pounds
Society makes it seem like if you don’t meet a certain body standard, there’s something wrong with you. That’s wrong. People come in all shapes and sizes, and people with larger bodies can be just as healthy as people with skinnier ones. That said, shedding a few unnecessary pounds can help your heart. Being overweight can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure, making you feel more sluggish and less eager to engage in physical activities. Crash diets are a bad idea, but work to stay fit and eat the right foods, and you’ll see the pounds slip away.
Sitting can be a silent killer. Sitting for too many hours a day can prevent you from staying fit, slow down your blood flow, make your bones and muscles weaker, encourage the development of obesity, build up rather than burn fat, and cause aches and pains across your body. Therefore, staying still can lead to a sick heart. There’s nothing wrong with sitting for a short spell here and there—sometimes you have to for work or the like. But take time to break the cycle. Get up and move around. Go for a walk or run up and down the stairs. Just don’t stay sedentary!
Know Your Risks
As you get older, stay on top of your heart health. Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Buying a home tester is a terrific idea. If your doctor prescribes medications, talk to them about how they might interact with other over-the-counter drugs you might take as well. Keep active because it can take longer for you to bounce back from illness and the potential for heart disease if you don’t. If physical fitness is difficult to do alone, investigate local groups of older people who engage in fun and life-prolonging exercise classes. And again, a brisk daily walk can do anyone, especially older people, a world of good!
Be Aware of How To Help Your Heart in an Emergency
If you do all the above, you may keep away the possibility of a cardiac event. But just in case you experience a heart attack or similar condition, know the signs and seek help immediately. Heart attacks announce themselves through chest pains, yes, but they may come with light-headedness, weakness, and pain in the arms, shoulders, jaw, and back. If you experience these, seek medical attention at once! In the meantime, ensure that you and those around you take CPR certification courses, so you can recognize a heart attack or heart failure when you see it. This allows you to perform actions that can keep the person alive until the professionals show up and take over.