Healthy Heart Habits for February
Stay Physically Active
Regular exercise not only strengthens your body and mind, but also reduces your risk for cardiovascular diseases. Physical activities make your heart stronger by enhancing the cardiorespiratory system, increasing HDL cholesterol, reducing blood pressure and heart rate, lowering inflammation and improving blood sugar control. People who don’t exercise are 30-40% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week by running, cycling, swimming, dancing, or even just walking for 10 minutes daily.
The quality of your meals has a big impact on how your body moves and heals itself. A poor diet that is high in salt or processed meat is linked to almost 50% of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke deaths. A heart healthy diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, seafood, healthy fats, nuts, and whole grains. Avoid foods with added sugar, processed meats, and packaged foods that may contain a lot of salt, sugar, preservatives, and additives. Eating fish for at least twice a week reduces your risk of heart disease as it is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Check your Blood Pressure
Hypertension is the leading cause of heart attacks and the highest risk for strokes. When your blood pressure is high, it causes constant strain to your heart to push blood through your veins and arteries, which can lead to damaging your heart and veins. Exercise and proper diet can help manage your blood pressure. It is critical to keep your blood pressure in check regularly. Having other conditions such as diabetes and obesity greatly impacts your risk of hypertension so it’s important to get regular checkups with your doctor.
Control Your Cholesterol Levels
The 2 types of cholesterol are HDL and LDL. While having HDL is good for you, having an unhealthy amount of LDL cholesterol may clog your arteries. You can control your cholesterol levels by watching your diet. Exercise and eating more plant-based foods and less fried, processed foods can help improve your cholesterol levels. It is recommended to get your cholesterol levels checked every 4-6 years.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
While the ways shown above are effective, prevention is always better than cure. It’s important to know that your lifestyle greatly affects your chances of getting sick or staying healthy. Unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking damage your body. The chemicals in tobacco cause your blood vessels to weaken and damage your heart. Smokers have twice the risk of experiencing a heart attack or a stroke. Excessive drinking can raise your blood pressure and cause irregular heartbeats. Having enough quality sleep and reducing stress is also a key factor in health. Not getting enough sleep and being highly stressed can cause you to seek out unhealthy habits as ways to calm down. Try meditating or find better coping mechanisms that work best for you without negative effects on your health.