Taking care of your heart is not a lifestyle choice but a necessity. Our fast-paced life with increased work pressure and family responsibilities are enough to result in stress and heart diseases. We know getting exercise, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress are good for the heart, but it is important to put these goals into action. The following are six practical tips that will not only make you feel great but also strengthen your heart.
1. Food Rules
Remember to reduce the intake of saturated or bad fats, and include healthier fats from fatty fish, eggs, and olive oil. Consume more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as it lowers your risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Stay away from sweet beverages and processed foods. Resist the urge to snack on fried food items. Preferably, switch to a low-fat and dairy diet. Also, limit salt consumption by cooking with a little salt and avoiding processed and pickled foods. Adults should ideally consume less than 6 g of salt in a day, which is only about a teaspoon.
2. Get Moving
Performing 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five or more days a week is important for a healthy heart. Make exercise fun by playing football or basketball with your kids, take your pet for a walk, or go mall-walking with friends. Stay active throughout the day by taking frequent breaks and walking up and down the stairs, as it greatly reduces the risk of heart disease.
3. Stop Smoking
Tobacco smoking is the biggest reason for coronary heart disease, which is the leading cause of heart attacks worldwide. Do not wait for a Monday or the week to end before you quit smoking. Quit now! Nicotine patches or chewing gums can help. Start with small steps and slowly reduce your daily intake until you make some days smoking free. And finally, quit! If you are unable to do so, consult a doctor, and get support.
4. Safe Drinking
Not only is alcohol high on calories and increases your waistline, but alcoholism also increases your blood pressure, damages heart muscles, and results in abnormal heart rhythms, which can all lead to heart attack and strokes. It is best to give up alcohol consumption, but if that is not possible, then try to stick to the current guidelines for moderate alcohol drinking, which are 3 to 4 units for men and 2 to 3 units for women a day.
Too much stress makes most people smoke, drink, and get little to no exercise. This results in heart diseases. Just taking out 20 minutes every day to meditate will make you feel relaxed and refreshed. It reduces anxiety, negative thoughts, and emotions. Do not forget to think about the good things in life and smile, laugh, and enjoy your life.
6. Know Your Family Medical History
Many heart conditions have a hereditary risk factor. If a close relative is diagnosed with a heart condition because of smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, etc., you are also at risk of developing coronary heart disease. Even though you are predisposed, you can avoid developing heart diseases through a healthy lifestyle and regular checkups. Remember to get a medical checkup every year, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose checks.