Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. But luckily it is preventable. So put down the cheeseburger, order a funny movie from Netflix, and read these 11 ways to keep your heart healthy for many years to come.
11 Steps To Take So You Can Keep Your Heart Healthy
1. Eat Healthy
This should be a no brainer…the foods you put in your body will affect how it runs. Just think, if you were to put low-grade gasoline in a high-performing car, do you think that engine is going to run as well as it can?
You’re right, it won’t. So your “high-performance gasoline” should include a heart-healthy diet full of fruits & vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like the kind in olive oil, salmon, and nuts. Steer clear of foods high in saturated fats; this means you’ll need to say “no” to Ronald, the King, and all the other fast foods you pass on your daily commute!
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of heart disease. If you’re not sure whether you’re in either of these risk categories, go to your doctor and get measured to find out…and then take action to drop the extra pounds.
3. Get Moving!
Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight while lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily. Don’t have time? Try these 4 ways to sneak in a workout while you’re on your way to work.
4. Check your Blood Pressure
Unless you’re monitoring your blood pressure, it could be super-high and you may not know it. And since heart attacks can happen at any time, you’ll want to minimize your risk factors and make sure your blood pressure is within a healthy range.
5. Don’t Smoke
Along with all the ugly stuff smoking does; stain your teeth, give you bad breath, and pull your hard-earned money out of your pocket, smoking is proven to cause cancer, stroke, emphysema, and that’s right…heart disease. Learn how to drop this bad habit on your way to reclaiming your health.
6. Limit Alcohol Use
Drinking alcohol in excess can raise your blood pressure. That means men should have no more than 2 glasses of alcohol daily, and no more than one for women. See a few tips on how you can drink less alcohol here.
7. Check your Cholesterol
Get your cholesterol levels checked at least once every 5 years. It’s a simple blood test and could show early indications that you’re at elevated risk of heart disease.
8. Manage your Diabetes
If you have diabetes it’s important you monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
9. Take your Medicine
If your doctor has prescribed medication for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, make sure you take it as prescribed and talk to your doctor if you have questions.
The old saying that laughter is the best medicine actually has some truth in it. According to a study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center, laughing may actually reduce your risk of heart disease.
High stress levels can increase your risk of heart disease. So if you’re stressed, what can you do? Tons! Try meditation, acupuncture, measuring your stress levels (yup, that works), or mini-meditations and affirmations to help you relax.
If you’re at risk for heart disease, follow these ways to keep your heart healthy so you can be around for your friends, family, and most important, yourself! And if you’re in great health already, share these tips with someone who can use a nudge in the right direction.
Dan Cassidy is CEO and Founder of Inspiyr.com, a personal growth site helping people live their best life. A confirmed self-improvement junkie, Dan is a former collegiate athlete, personal trainer, advertising executive and current student of life.
Centers for Disease Control: February is American Heart Month
University of Maryland Medical Center: Heart Disease: Tips for Prevention
The Psychobiology Group, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London: Platelets, Coronary Heart Disease, and Stress
Featured photo by le vent le cri
This story was originally published 2/7/13 and updated by the Inspiyr team 7/3/13.