A Guide to Keeping Your Heart Healthy
The key to a healthy heart is pretty straightforward: eat right, get plenty of exercise, and rest well. However, putting this important advice into practice is not as simple since there are so many questions:
- What foods should you eat and which should you stay away from?
- What kind of exercise, and how much?
- What’s a healthy weight?
- How much sleep is ideal?
- How can you make this into a daily routine?
The easiest way is to break everything down step-by-step and start small. Below are three must-know tips on how to keep your heart healthy.
The minimum recommended amount of daily exercise for an average adult is 30 minutes, and it needs to be moderate exercise. Aim to get your heart rate up five days a week.
You can break up the daily 30 minutes of exercise if you like – maybe do a few stretches and exercises like sit-ups in the morning before your shower to help wake up, go for a brisk walk at lunch, and play some sports after work with friends or your kids.
Keep in mind that being sedentary for the other 23 ½ hours of the day won’t help your situation, so try and break up long periods of sitting by getting up and stretching your legs. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is for every hour of sitting you do, you get up and walk around for 5-10 minutes.
While it is possible to dine out or order in and still eat healthy, cooking your own meals is the best way to ensure you’re getting all the right nutrients to help your heart and skipping all the unhealthy ingredients. In general, you’ll want to adjust your diet to:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Choose whole grains over white bread
- Eat saturated fats over trans fats
- Choose lean meats such as chicken and fish over fatty meats like red meat and pork
- Cut down on salt (avoid canned or processed foods)
- Cut down on sugar
Getting the proper nutrients and vitamins is important as well. If you’re having trouble getting the recommended amounts in your meals, think about taking supplements from health food and care brands like Swanson.
Being conscious of the foods you eat is a good first step, but also consider your portion sizes. Loading up your plate so it’s full of food and eating until you’re absolutely stuffed is a good way to gain extra and unnecessary calories, so keep an eye on the number of servings you’re eating. Being overweight greatly contributes to poor heart health, and the first step to controlling your weight is a healthy diet with good portion control.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to reward yourself every once in a while with a treat – just don’t overdo it, and there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your favourite snack on occasion!
Get Proper Sleep
Poor sleep habits lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, so try and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Fewer than this and more than this can be unhealthy, with 7 hours being the sweet spot.
You want to get a good quality sleep as well, so your body has time to fully relax and recharge. Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s rest.
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