Tips to Give Your Heart Some Love

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Your heart needs your love, attention, and care. Give it the same kind of TLC you give the people you love. This vital organ will return the favor if you treat it the way it deserves. You can start taking care of your heart at any age, but the sooner you start, the more benefits you may reap. You can make conscious choices every day to improve your heart’s health and create lifelong habits.

Choose a lifestyle that focuses on wellness

You have direct control over many of the factors that can influence your heart’s health. It is up to you to decide how seriously you will take this responsibility. Adopting a healthy lifestyle may be easy for some people. Others will only do so after being diagnosed with heart disease symptoms, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Whatever your motivation, keep in mind that the benefits of a healthy heart are worth the effort. In fact, this will improve your body as a whole. Good overall health can also protect you from developing type 2 diabetes, asthma, joint pain, and other chronic diseases and conditions. It could also reduce the risk of cancer. Studies also show that a mindful lifestyle that includes eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can dramatically improve your mood. You will have more energy and less stress.

If you are not sure where to start, try incorporating a single healthy habit to your routine at first (for example, exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes). As you feel you’re gaining control, try adding another habit, and then another. You will soon feel empowered instead of overwhelmed.

Choose the right foods

Balance is the key to eating healthy in the long term. Your diet should mainly consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lean protein. If you eat like this most of the time, you will be able to enjoy an occasional cheat meal in your diet. It is important to let yourself eat something you crave from time to time to keep the balance in your life.

Keep color in mind when choosing your vegetables. A colorful plate with lots of red, orange, yellow, and dark green vegetables helps guarantee you get the vitamins and minerals you need. Try to reduce or even eliminate highly processed foods. Highly processed foods are the foods that are pre-packaged and ready to eat (such as salty crackers, chips, and take-out). Also, look for food that is low in sodium.

Swap soda and energy drinks for water. There is an incredible amount of sugar in soda and energy drinks. Drinking water instead can significantly improve your health. Try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.

Keep an eye on your weight

Being obese or overweight can be harmful to your health. As you gain more weight, your body mass index (BMI) increases. Obesity puts you at risk of developing respiratory problems, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and even cancer. Choosing healthy foods combined with an exercise program is the best way to lose weight. Even a little weight loss can make a big difference in your health. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), losing just 5-10% of your body weight can lower your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Get moving

You don’t need to have a gym membership or buy fancy equipment in order to exercise. The key is getting up and moving. Go for a walk. Take the stairs at work. Do some push-ups or sit-ups. Dance. Doctors recommend at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity per week for adults. Children should get at least an hour of physical activity every day.

Aerobic exercise has a direct effect on the heart. Your heart is a muscle, and exercise makes it stronger. A strong heart can pump blood more efficiently to send oxygen and nutrients to other parts of your body. Exercise can lower the risk of building up plaque in your arteries. Plaque is a waxy substance that can obstruct the arteries and reduce the blood flow to the heart. If too much plaque builds up, it can block the artery. This is what causes a heart attack.

Know your numbers

Every adult should know their blood pressure and cholesterol level. Starting at 18 years old, you should have your blood pressure checked at least every 3 to 5 years. Oftentimes, there are no symptoms that point to high blood pressure. The best way to know for sure is to check. Young adults over 20 years old who smoke or have a family history of heart disease should have regular cholesterol tests. Otherwise, women should start getting regular cholesterol checks at age 45, and men should start at age 35. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you should also get screened for diabetes.

These are some tips to help you start pampering your heart more. Your heart will thank and reward you in the long run. Take care of it!


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