Taking steps toward better health doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 10 easy things you can do to take care of your heart and help protect your health.
- Know your highs and lows: You know a healthy diet is critical to your heart’s health, but do you know your highs and lows? Opt for foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, low in salt and sugar, high in fiber, and high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Butt out: Smoking increases your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Do your heart a favor and kick the habit. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start!
- Remember moderation: If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. If you have health concerns, or take medications, check with your doctor to see if drinking is safe. And one more important tip: Never drink and drive.
- Smile big: Some studies show that there may be a relation between gum disease and heart disease. Be sure to brush and floss regularly. Remember, dental checkups and cleanings are an important part of your overall health.
- Get moving: Exercise is not just good for your heart. It can help you manage your weight and boost your spirits. Most healthy adults should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise a week. Add strength exercises on two or more days a week. For safety’s sake, talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly. You might begin with exercising in 10-minute sessions. Gradually build from there.
- De-stress: Stress can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. Adopting healthy ways to manage your stress may help your heart not have to work so hard.
- See your doctor — even if you feel well: Health concerns such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol often don’t have symptoms. So it’s important to get your numbers checked. Ask your doctor about a weight that’s right for you. Maintaining a healthy weight is good for your heart. Getting regular checkups now could mean fewer health problems in the future.
- Hit the hay: Getting the sleep you need is important to all aspects of your health, including your heart health. When we sleep, our bodies and minds recharge. Don’t skimp on sleep—it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
- Write it down: While there are many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease, you can’t change your genetics. Talk with family members to learn what health concerns may run in your family. Be sure to share your family history with your doctor.
- Be your own best advocate: If you are already living with a chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it is crucial that you work with your doctor to manage your condition. Be sure to ask questions and follow your doctor’s recommendations to lower your risk of heart disease.
Source: ERS News About Your Benefits (May 2016)