5 Eating and Exercise Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy and Strong
Despite the efforts of the medical community to disseminate information about the perils of failing to attend to heart health issues, cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer amongst adults, both men and women. And although we are now more equipped than ever to fight heart disease, thanks to readily available knowledge about causes and cures, not to mention associated medical procedures, people have to make the right choices if they want to enjoy a healthy cardiovascular system. And while you probably know that diet, exercise, and lifestyle play an important role, you might not know how that translates to practical, daily activities. So here are just a few eating and exercise tips that will help to keep your heart healthy and strong.
- Get back to natural. Our society is inundated by choices when it comes to food, and not all of them further the cause of a healthy heart. But the closer you get to fresh, natural foods, the better chance you have of avoiding the added fats, sugars, sodium, and preservatives that can ratchet up the calorie count and harm your heart. In addition to eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, you might also want to consider making the switch to organic options. Although there is nothing to say that this is healthier for your heart, avoiding the many chemicals used to grow, process, and preserve foods could be better for your health overall.
- Know your cholesterol. You probably know that bad cholesterol (LDL) plays a major role in heart disease thanks to plaque buildup on arteries that can lead to heart attack. It is found in saturated fats. If you want to keep it to a minimum, you should cut back on eggs, red meat, and cheese, although by no means do you have to give up these foods. It turns out that they have a lot of benefits, despite the presence of LDL. So while they should be limited, they can still be part of a healthy diet. What you really need to avoid are items high in not only saturated fats, but trans fats and/or sugars, as well, such as soda, chips, cookies, and even some pasta and bread. When you opt for lean meats, low-fat dairy, and whole grains, you’re going to lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL (or good) cholesterol, likely improving heart health.
- Boost your cardio. Getting blood pumping through your veins with cardiovascular exercise is a great way to keep your heart healthy, but most of us lead sedentary lifestyles. Luckily, our bodies were meant to move, and aside from improved health, you’ll enjoy perks like weight loss and mood-boosting endorphins when you choose to add exercise to your daily routine. Doctors recommend about 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise 3-5 times each week to stay healthy (or more to lose weight), so get off the couch and go for a walk, a jog, a hike, a bike, a swim, or some sports with friends.
- Add weight training. Did you know that muscle burns more calories than fat, pound for pound? In addition to adding tone and definition to your body, reducing cellulite, and making you stronger, weight training turns fat into muscle when paired with a targeted diet. This increases your body’s ability to burn the calories it consumes, helping you to lose weight and get your heart in shape.
- Talk to your doctor. If you’re still not certain about what to do for better heart health, or you’re facing issues despite your best efforts, you might want to talk to your doctor about other options. It could be that medication or even surgery is in order. While you might not like the idea of taking a pill every day or going under the knife, it could be preferable to keeping automatic external defibrillators around the house for a “just in case” scenario.