Our heart, quite literally, keeps us alive. Our hearts are responsible for pumping and circulating blood throughout our bodies. Blood is what moves the vitamins, minerals, oxygen and other essential nutrients to our organs, tissues, and bones so they can function properly. As we approach American Heart Month in February, now is the time to pay careful attention to the health of our hearts.
The good news is that so much of our heart health (and overall health, for that matter) can be determined based on lifestyle choices. Here are the top habits you can incorporate into your life to maintain optimal heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease:
1. Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight can negatively impact your health in more ways than one and can greatly increase your risk of heart disease. Figuring out your healthy body weight can be challenging if it’s never been a priority. It’s wise to seek guidance from your physician and/or a nutritionist to assist with a plan that works for you.
2. Get plenty of regular exercise. Your heart works extra hard when we workout, helping to build it as a muscle in our body. In addition to helping you maintain your weight, getting plenty of exercise will help keep your heart healthy.
3. Don’t smoke. Simple as that. And avoid second hand smoke as much as possible.
4. Visit your doctor regularly for check-ups and to ensure your cholesterol, triglyceride levels and blood pressure are under control. Sometimes certain medicines are necessary to get these levels into healthy range.
5. Don’t sit for too long at one time. Studies prove that sitting in one place too long can be detrimental for your health despite how much exercise you do. Sitting too long can increase your risk of blood clots and cardiovascular-related events. So, get up and get moving throughout the day, every day. Try parking further away from your destination and try taking short walks in between your daily routines.
6. Cut down on saturated fat and salt. Eating too many foods that are high in saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels. This increases your risk of heart disease. Try eating more fish and chicken and eat leaner cuts of beef and pork, and use fat-free or reduced-fat milk instead of whole milk. Also, to maintain healthy blood pressure, avoid using salt at the table and try adding less to your cooking. Adults should eat less than 6g of salt a day in total – that's about one teaspoon.
As you age, heart health becomes more important and should be a top priority. It’s also important to always listen to your body. Often times, it will alert us if something is wrong so don’t ignore symptoms. You should talk to your doctor if you feel unusually tired for several days, or you develop any new health problems (i.e. pain or shortness of breath). Being proactive about your health can be the best thing you do for yourself. Inter Valley Health Plan hosts classes regularly on health and vitality. For a full list of classes in your area, please visit forhealthandliving.com/ivhpevents.
Article From Inter Valley Health Plan