Your daily choices can influence whether you maintain a healthy heart, mind and body or develop disabling conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and more. Good health is complex, and it’s more than just eating your fruits and vegetables or exercising consistently. Making small lifestyle choices can help you live longer with more energy and focus. It’s always a good time to adopt healthy habits, and what better time than the present to become more conscious of your heart health and start intentionally improving your lifestyle? Here are a couple of tips to help get you started.
1. Move your body.
We all face times where we struggle to find the perfect balance between the responsibility to move our bodies and workout and relaxation. Although it can be tempting to relax, watch tv and veg out, spending too much of your day sitting on the couch can put you at risk for developing heart disease. In fact, a recent study from Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that prolonged TV viewing was associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature death. If you don’t currently have a workout plan in place, start small by going for a walk every day. As an aerobic exercise, walking requires you to take in more oxygen and increase your blood flow, allowing your lungs, heart and muscles to functions properly and efficiently. It’s one of the easiest physical activities you can do to strengthen your heart and get your body moving.
2. Watch what you eat.
The foods you eat play a huge role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating foods that are high in saturated fats like processed meats, desserts and margarine can cause weight gain and high cholesterol, increasing your risk of developing heart disease. To prevent or manage your high cholesterol, try to avoid processed and sugary foods. Instead, focus on supplementing your diet with foods that can benefit your heart such as leafy greens, berries, nuts, beans, chia seeds, flax seeds and foods high in Omega-3 and fiber.
While it’s okay to indulge in dessert and some processed foods, be mindful and limit your intake of these foods.
3. Manage your stress.
Stress is a normal part of life and can be caused by a number of different things, including not getting enough sleep, illness or simply managing everyday obligations and pressures that make you feel like you’re not in control. While it’s completely normal to experience stress once in a while, constant stress can take a toll on your heart and overall health, putting you at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
Your body’s learned response to stress is supposed to protect you, but constantly living with that stress can actually harm your heart and your health. When you feel stressed, your body releases cortisol into the bloodstream to enhance your brain’s use of glucose and increase the availability of substances that repair tissues. While the release of cortisol is a tactic used to help your body deal with stressors and hectic situations, recent studies have suggested that the high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase your blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure levels and even promote the buildup of plaque deposits in your arteries.
Getting fresh air and moving your body, confiding in a loved one or seeking treatment for constant feelings of depression or anxiety can help you better manage difficult situations and deal with stress.
Am I a Candidate?
Determine if you are at risk for developing or already have symptoms for venous disease.