Heart disease affects an astounding number of people, ranking as the top killer of both men and women across the globe. Heart disease knows no boundaries, afflicting all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Every year, almost 650,000 Americans die from heart disease. 2018 reports showed an astounding 30.3 million adults in the US had heart disease diagnoses. One out of every four deaths is attributed to this killer.
Still, there is hope. Heart disease is largely caused by lifestyle factors. By doing only what you can control and practicing healthy heart habits, you may reduce your odds of experiencing heart issues down the line.
Below, we spotlight three of the best habits you can begin today.
1. Make Movement a Priority
Both physical inactivity and excessive endurance sports contribute to a risk for atrial fibrillation, among other heart issues. So, not only should be movement be a priority, but mindful movement should be a priority—allowing your body adequate rest between sessions.
Any aerobic exercise that satisfies you is a good place to start. That could mean walking, running, swimming, or biking. Try to do it often—five days a week for thirty minutes or more.
Moderate, heart-healthy exercises have several benefits:
• Lowered blood pressure
• A boost of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and a reduction of the “bad” cholesterol (LDL)
• Burn calories
• Make the heart muscle stronger and healthier
Inactive individuals are nearly two times more likely to develop heart disease than active people.
2. Put Down the Cigarette (And the Third Beer)
Smoking is an undeniable contributor to various heart issues. Smoking reduces your heart’s oxygen intake, raises blood pressure, and speeds up the heart rate. It also increases the risk of heart attacks or strokes and can even harm blood vessels’ insides.
One out of every five deaths caused by heart disease is attributed to smoking. Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease.
Similarly, excessive alcohol use is very harmful to the heart. It can lead to higher blood pressure, stroke, and even heart failure. Experts recommend not drinking more than one drink a day for women and one to two for men.
If quitting either of these things proves difficult for you, consider looking for help from reputable resources, such as the CDC, the Truth Initiative, or local counselors. Even friends or family members you trust may be able to offer advice.
3. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Finally, what you eat plays a significant role in your heart’s health.
Foods that harm the heart include sugar, salt, or fat in excessive amounts; bacon; too much red meat; processed meats; and any baked goods or sweets. Consider eating these items in much more moderation, in smaller portions, or eliminating them, opting for healthier alternatives.
Heart-healthy foods include leafy green veggies, avocados, berries, fatty fish, and beans.
There are several online resources with delicious, nutritious recipes that make healthy eating anything but bland or boring.
Start These Healthy Heart Habits Today
Do you want to improve your heart health?
If so, it’s never too late to start. Take a look at any of your bad habits—inactivity, smoking, drinking, stress—and see what healthy heart habits you can replace them with—taking walks, eliminating cigarettes, drinking more water, meditating. It won’t be easy but it’ll be one of the most rewarding things you could ever do for yourself.
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