In an average adult, the heart beats about 2.5 billion times over a lifetime-pushing gallons of blood to every part of the body. With it, it carries oxygen, hormones and a host of other essential cells.
Given the heart’s heavy workload, it’s a wonder it performs so well, for so long. By all means, the heart functions the way it does so that you can stay alive and well. However, it can also fail, owing to poor physical health, negligent habits, and lack of exercise.
A good diet and exercise is an important start towards maintaining heart health, but what else can you do?
Here are the 8 things that TABIIB lists that you can do everyday to keep your heart at its best:
Make Time To Exercise
Adults need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to keep their heart strong. It doesn’t have to be at a stretch – you could also break it up into small tasks during the day, if you like. Aim for a 15 minute morning jog, go for a walk during lunch time, a bit of stretching before dinner and you’ve met your goals for the day.
All kinds of exercises are important, from light stretching to intensive cardio, endurance and flexibility workouts.
Studies have shown that people who smoke are the greatest risk of developing cardiovascular difficulties in the future. Smoking cigarettes causes your arteries to tighten which means your heart has to work harder. It also triggers an irregular heart rhythm and increases blood pressure.
Quitting can be difficult and if it isn’t done right, then it can cause damage in the long run. If you’re looking to quit, there are many guides and resources available to help you.
Moderate Your Food Intake
How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Bingeing food at a stretch puts pressure on your digestive system, as well as your cardiovascular system. Instead, use small bowls and plates to regulate how much you eat. Eat larger portions of nutrient rich foods such as fruits, and smaller portions of high sodium foods such as fast food. Following this rule can help keep your heart, and your body, in shape.
Eat Healthy Fats
We all need fats, such as unsaturated and polyunsaturated, in our diet because they contribute to a healthy, balanced meal. What you don’t need in a diet is the trans fat which is known to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Trans fats clog arteries and increase cholesterol levels. By cutting them out of your diet, you can improve heart health significantly.
Switch To Whole Grains
Whole grains are good sources of fibre, which are important in regulating cholesterol and blood pressure. You can start small by substituting refined grain products such as breads and doughs with whole grains.
Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Sodium can contribute to increased blood pressure which, as a result, poses a risk for cardiovascular disease. Reducing your salt intake is an important part of maintaining a heart healthy diet.
Much of the salt you consume comes from processed and ready made food. Cooking your own fresh meals can help you reduce consumption of sodium.
Don’t Skip On Sleep
Sleep is an important factor in maintaining a healthy heart. Not getting enough sleep causes disruptions in heart rhythms which affects biological processes such as glucose metabolism and blood pressure regulation. Getting enough good sleep is vital if you want to lower your risk of cardiovascular complications.
Choose Low Fat Protein
Lean meat, fish and dairy are your best sources of protein but it’s important to choose lower fat options such as skim milk instead of full cream. Fish is a great alternative to high-fat meats. They contain omega 3 fatty acids that can lower blood fats called triglycerides.
Adding low fat protein to your diet will increase your fiber intake that is good for your heart.
Making the small changes as suggested will do your heart a favour. With planning and a few substitutions, you can make a heart healthy lifestyle doable and enjoyable. Contact a cardiologist or dietitian on TABIIB to make sure you make the choices that work for you.