Everyone must have heard about the importance of a healthy lifestyle for healthy heart. But, ever wondered what healthy changes are required for a heart–healthy lifestyle and how these changes affect your body?
When your doctor tells you to make certain changes in your lifestyle, perhaps, you start wondering: Will it really make a difference? Do you need to make those changes in addition to taking medicines for your heart? And, the answer is YES! Lifestyle changes play a vital part not only in your heart health but overall well-being by improving the quality and length of your life.
Certain risk factors for heart disease, such as age and family history, can’t be changed. However, what is in our control is the lifestyle we choose to lead which plays a significant role in preventing the onset of a heart disease.Health Lifestyle for Healthy Heart Benefits:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered bad cholesterol and blood fat (triglyceride) levels
- Lowered risk of heart attack, stroke
- Prolonged life
- Improved efficacy of medication or eliminating their need entirely
Coronary illness is the leading cause of death in the world. To a large degree, this is brought about due to reckless lifestyle choices. Therefore, choose your way of life with utmost responsibility as it will help to safeguard against coronary illness. If you need some motivation, here is a defining fact: Past research has found that 90% of all heart disease cases can be prevented by modifying diet and lifestyle. It’s astonishing that most people are not using lifestyle habits to their advantage. You can do a lot to lower your odds of contracting cardiac ailments.
5 Lifestyle Changes for Healthy Heart
Unlike criticism which you shouldn’t take to your heart, the below mentioned changes towards a healthy lifestyle for healthy heart must be taken to your heart.
- Quit Smoking
Smoking is probably the most harmful activity for not just your lungs but also your heart and blood vessels. Here’s how:
- Smoking lowers the amount of oxygen, and instead increases the levels of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream, creating an urgent need of oxygen for your heart. Unable to get the required oxygen, the heart is susceptible to a heart attack.
- Any kind of smoking is harmful for the heart, including breathing second-hand smoke from those around you.
- Nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to tighten, leading to increased blood pressure and an increased workload for your heart.
The single best thing you can do for your heart health is to quit smoking, the benefits of which are:
- Blood pressure goes down; blood flow improves
- Oxygen levels in blood return to normal; breathing improves
- Carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce; coughing and shortness of breath decreases
- Exercise Regularly
Remaining inactive is another bad thing you can do if you have heart disease or are at risk of developing it, as it can lead to the following:
- Increased body weight
- Diabetes (a heart disease risk factor)
- High blood pressure
- Deterioration of heart condition
Regular exercise reduces your risk to all above factors that put a strain on the heart. Physical activity of moderate intensity for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week is beneficial. For people with busy lifestyles which does not allow them a set time for exercise, the good news is that breaking up exercise sessions into three 10-minute workouts offer the same heart benefits as one long session of 30 minutes. Also, routine activities like taking the stairs, walking the dog, housekeeping chores, etc. all count towards the total. Small steps like walking to the market instead of taking the car or alighting from the bus a couple of stops behind increase your activity level. The key is to remain active throughout the day – increasing the frequency, intensity, and duration of the exercise program can result in bigger benefits.
- Eat a Balanced Diet for a Healthy Heart
Healthy food choices like controlling the portion size are helpful in maintaining a proper body weight and controlling diabetes, thereby leading to a healthy lifestyle for healthy heart. In terms of food choices, a heart-healthy diet should include foods that are low in cholesterol, fat and sodium.
Foods to include for a healthy heart diet are:
- Whole-grain foods (whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)
- Eating more fruits and vegetables, especially those that are deeply coloured like spinach, carrots, berries, etc.
- Poultry, fish
- Low-fat dairy products
Foods to avoid for a healthy heart diet are:
- Total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol
- Sweets and added sugars, sweetened beverages
- Red meat
Limit salt intake: Sodium is a chemical compound found in salt and processed food. It raises blood pressure rise due to fluid retention. Lowering the amount of salt in your diet lowers the amount of fluid your body holds on to and further helps lower blood pressure and the strain on your heart. Limiting sodium intake to 1500 mg per day yields the greatest benefit. You can rinse canned food before using and substituting salt with herbs and spices when cooking.
Tip: Make it a habit to read the label on all food and drink items before buying, to check how many calories, fat, salt and sugar the product contains.
Understanding the constituents of the food and how it fits in with the rest of your diet will help you make healthier choices.
- Manage Body Weight
Excess body weight increases your risk of higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol and diabetes, all of which can lead to heart disease. Whether your current weight is linked to an increased risk of heart disease can be checked in two ways:
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is used as a standard indicator in determining if an adult individual is at a healthy weight or not.
BMI is a mathematical formula that considers a person’s height and weight in determining obesity.
Body mass index (BMI) = Weight (kg)/Height (m)
- BMI below 18.5 = Underweight
- BMI 18.5 – 24.9 = Normal
- BMI 25.0 – 29.9 = Overweight
- BMI 30.0 and above = Obesity
- Waist Circumference
Waist circumference measures the waist size, just above the belly button. It is a good predictor of abdominal fat, which is a risk factor of heart disease. Risk of heart disorders increases with a waist circumference that exceeds 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women. If overweight, even a five to ten per cent reduction in body weight can reduce your risk to heart disease.
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Manage Stress
Stress affects the heart in the following way:
- It causes emotions like anger that can trigger a heart attack.
- Your reaction mechanism in coping with stress (smoking, drinking excess alcohol, and overeating) can be dangerous for your heart.
Dealing with stress in a timely manner can protect your heart. Some techniques to help you manage stress include:
- Talk to family, friends or join a support group
Follow these tips and you’ll be doing your heart a favor. You’ll be able to stay active with healthy lifestyle for healthy heart.
Bonus: Every action taken to protect your heart will give your overall health a boost, too.
How to Get Started for Healthy Lifestyle for Healthy Heart
Altering everyday habits may not happen overnight, and it might seem overwhelming to make so many changes. Here are some ways to get on the healthy lifestyle for healthy heart track:
- Identify your risk factors and create a plan focused on it.
- Pick one lifestyle area, to begin with – write down your goals and steps to achieve them. Aim to build these changes into a routine.
- Involve your family, friends or local support groups. You can even seek the help of health care professional to find relevant resources. A dietician can help you devise a healthy meal plan. This will help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle for healthy heart.
- Finally, reward yourself and celebrate every milestone achieved – and then get ready for the next goal!
Regardless of one’s heart health, one should constantly endeavour to implement appropriate healthy lifestyle for a healthy heart. These changes will not only protect your heart but will go a long way in maintaining good overall health and well being. To ensure this, go ahead and plan your daily constitutional walk, purchase healthy items on your next grocery visit, and do not forget to visit your doctor for periodic checkups. Simple steps like these will play a pivotal role in making a significant impact to your heart and overall health.
Therefore, following a healthy lifestyle for healthy heart regime can play a critical role in the prevention of a heart attack. To learn more about the Heart Attack and its causes, symptoms, and treatment, go to the what is heart attack article.