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How To Keep Your Heart Healthy

tips on keep your heart healthy

The heart is the strongest, most important muscle in your body. Though all men and women face the risk of developing heart diseases as they age, there are some ways to maintain a healthy heart for longer.

Cut Smoking Out of Your Life

The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke restricts the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs, causing the heart to supply extra oxygen. In addition, tobacco and nicotine include many chemicals that cause your blood vessels to tighten. Both increase the odds of a heart attack.

Start an Exercise Regimen

Exercising for 30 minutes a day will get your blood pumping and will drastically improve your heart health. It’s important to build your fitness routine around your personal needs. Don’t do cardio workouts that are too strenuous because it defeats the purpose of exercise.

Maintain a Healthy Diet and a Healthy Weight

Avoid saturated fat and trans fat, such as red meat, deep-fried foods and processed foods. Avoiding these foods will keep your weight down and reduce the amount of strain on your heart. The healthiest foods for your heart are fruits, vegetables, beans and fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Consume Alcohol in Moderation

Consuming alcohol in moderation is great for maintaining a healthy heart. Men can consume two drinks a day to protect their hearts, while women can consume one. Drinking more than the recommended amount can have the opposite effect on your heart.

Get Regular Screenings

Get regular screenings so you know what is going on with your body. Being informed on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels will allow you to take action before serious damage to your heart occurs.

 

Consult with your physician today for information on how to maintain a healthy heart.

Best Exercises for Cardiovascular Health

bestexercises

Moderate exercise can improve your strength, flexibility, endurance and cardiovascular health. Even though any amount of exercise is beneficial to your health, experts recommend doing a minimum of 75 minutes of aerobic exercise per week for your heart to reap the rewards.

The following exercises improve the way your body uses oxygen and strengthen your heart:

  •  Interval Training – Combining short bursts of high-intensity exercise with longer periods of active recovery prevents heart disease, diabetes, promotes weight loss and efficiently improves fitness. So, if you focus on taking brisk walks, add one to two minutes of sprints for every five minutes of walking.

 

  • Weight Training – Similar to interval training, weight training increases your heart rate during reps, then you recover in between sets. While machine exercises are helpful, using free weights engages your core and builds balance for extra benefits.

 

  • Swimming – Swimming is a great, total-body, low-impact sport. Because so many muscles are involved in this total-body workout, the heart needs to work harder to fuel them. Other activities, such as rowing and cross-country skiing, provide similar cardiovascular benefits.

 

  • Yoga – Yoga is a calming exercise that burns a lot of calories, lowers blood pressure and promotes heart health. It also strengthens your core.

 

  • Stay active all day – Staying active all day when you have a desk job can be difficult. To combat the negative impact of sitting at a computer, try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day and run errands after work to make up for being sedentary.

What Exercises are Bad for your Heart?

There are very few exercises that are actually bad for your heart. However, those who are at risk for a heart attack should avoid any type of vigorous exercise that they haven’t trained for.

Some examples include:

  • Running long-distance
  • Swimming long-distance
  • Shoveling snow for extended periods of time
  • Biking more than 20 miles.

Consult your physician for information on keeping your heart healthy through exercise.

 

The Importance of Being Active

Like most people, you have probably heard that physical activity including exercise is good for you. Exercise or physical activity is a struggle for many people especially during the winter months. Establishing regular physical activity habits is as important as healthy eating.

There are many benefits of exercise:

  • increasing your body strength
  • maintaining or reducing weight
  • improving bone density
  • improving your quality of sleep
  • increasing your energy
  • relieving stress
  • countering many medical conditions.

Physical activity is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. Don’t worry if you have never exercised or stopped exercising, making a decision to start being active or exercising is the first step.

Where do I start?

First, check with your physician if you have medical conditions before engaging in an exercise program to ensure safety. Seek the assistance of a physical therapist if you have any on-going physical ailments. If it has been a while since you were physically active, take it slow. Nothing stops a program sooner than injuring yourself by overdoing it at your first attempt. Find an activity that you enjoy participating in to increase the chance that you will continue. Find an exercise buddy to make it more enjoyable, and to increase your success.

What do I do? 

Figure out how you can add activity or exercise into each day. It is important to include a combination of activities to increase strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. Cardiovascular exercises should be alternated every other day with the strength training to improve all muscle groups.

How do I add activity?

Think about your current routine. Figure out ways to slips exercise into each day. A brisk walk before starting other daily activities, hopping off the bus or train a stop ahead and walking the rest of the way to your destination, taking a 5-10 minute walk during your lunch break, using the stairs instead of the elevator- or walking a few flights up or down before taking the elevator on higher floors. Think about keeping free weights or exercise bands by the TV chair to use during commercials. Chair exercises, free weights and exercise bands are helpful for persons unable to walk or stand for extended periods of time.

Next Steps for Success

Begin by setting a short term goal. Make it part of your routine. Set a start date and time to initiate your plan for adding activity. Have a busy schedule?  Add it to you date book or appointment calendar and make sure you use that time for activity. Seek out an exercise buddy, maybe a co-worker looking for someone to walk with, or friend to join you at an exercise class or join an organized sports team for people of your age group. Seek out what classes or facilities are available in your area. Shop for an exercise or yoga DVD, or seek out options from your local library that allows you to exercise in the privacy of your home. What about that exercise equipment in the basement or spare room? It might be as easy as getting that equipment out from under the clothes hanging on it, and using it at a time that is convenient.

Setting up an exercise routine, as minimal as it might be, is an important step to improving your health. Experts say “any activity is better than nothing!”

In order to be successful when making changes, make them small, simple and progressive. Add one change, and once you are comfortable with that change, introduce another. Get moving!!