Here are 7 ways to honor your heart and return the love to your heart that it gives you every day…
🍎 EAT HEALTHY 🍎
Eat Healthy! Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals, also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Both contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods. Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products.
⚖️ CONTROL YOUR CHOLESTEROL ⚖️
The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for how much fat and cholesterol to include in a heart-healthy diet.
⚖️ MANAGE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE ⚖️
High Blood Pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys. To manage your blood pressure you should eat a heart healthy diet, reduce sodium intake, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid tobacco smoke. For more information on maintaining your blood pressure, Cholesterol levels and general heart health click here.
🔻 REDUCE BLOOD SUGAR 🔻
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes. Begin your healthy diet by reducing consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts. Also take your medications regularly if prescribed and get your exercise!
💪 GET PHYSICAL 🚵
The first step is to talk to your doctor and get recommendations of what would work best for you on a personal level based on your medical history. Moderate exercise can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses as well as improve your endurance, strength and flexibility. Here are four simple ways you can get physical and be on your way to a healthier heart:
🚶 Brisk Walking is a natural way to improve your fitness. 🏃 Running: If you are a beginner to running, start out with a brisk walk and add 1 to 2 minutes of running every 5 minutes of walking. As you get more fit, you can increase the minutes you run until you don’t need to walk in between.
🏊 Swimming laps or even participating in water fitness classes will not only raise your heart rate and improve your heart health, the water provides multi-directional resistance that will improve your muscular strength and tone.
🚲 Cycling is a low-impact exercise that you can do solo in the gym, in a spin class, or outside on the road or trails.
🔻 REDUCE STRESS 🔻
Reducing Stress: When you are faced with stress, the ways you cope with it play a huge roll in either compounding it or truly eliminating it. Don’t look to escapes like drugs or alcohol, junk food, over sleeping, zoning out completely or taking it out on those around you. Some of the best ways to deal with stress are to, try meditation, avoid people and situations that create stress in your life whenever possible AND get more rest! Check out these great tips on reducing stress from Web MD.
🚭 QUIT SMOKING 🚭
Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health. Whatever it takes for you to stop smoking, it is worth it! Visit the American Heart Association’s Quit Smoking website for tools and resources.