6 Tips to Live Heart Healthy in 2018

Feb 20, 2018
heart health tips

2018 is in full swing and if you’re part of the majority, you may already be slipping on your New Year’s Resolution to break unhealthy habits and live a healthier lifestyle.

This month is American Heart Month, so there’s no better time than the present to re-up on your resolution and start making heart healthy habits a priority. Here are six tips to help keep your heart ticking for many years to come.

Drink your water  — If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work nearly as hard to pump blood throughout your body. Water helps your muscles work efficiently, helping them work with your heart to give your body easier access to the oxygen needed to function properly. Drinking plenty of water can also help you burn excess body fat and staying hydrated can give you a little extra strength to kick those junk food cravings. Aim to drink at least 60 ounces of water each day.

Sleep — Even adults need a minimum of six (ideally eight) hours of sleep each night to efficiently recharge. Getting nine or more hours of sleep may seem like a good idea, but it’s not recommended. The right amount of sleep — not too little and not too much — results in healthier arteries than people who sleep too little or too much. Staying up late can be fun, but make sure you know when to hit the pillow at night and when to stop hitting snooze in the morning. Your heart will thank you.

Make (and keep) preventive health appointments — Don’t avoid the doctor. Preventive screenings and yearly checkups are important as you age. Living heart healthy means knowing your “numbers,” (a.k.a. blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels). Make preventive health care a priority for every member of your family and heed the advice of your trusted physician.

Just breathe — Whether it’s the stress of your workload, raising kids, relationships or even sitting in traffic, learn to recognize when you’re feeling stressed and take a deep breath. All that stress isn’t doing your heart any favors. If you have a long list of responsibilities, write them down in a planner or calendar to get them on a schedule and out of your head. Waking up to a well-planned day is one of the best stress relievers there is. If your plate is overflowing, learn to say “no,” to extra activities and responsibilities and focus on simplifying your life.

Skip the saturated fats — Your arteries depend on this one. Saturated fats can cause blockages in the arteries with cholesterol by building up in the bloodstream. Start by taking a look at the nutritional info on the foods you buy at the grocery store. The key is to look at the serving size, then the percentage of daily value of saturated fat. The label tells you how much is in one serving, not the entire package. Drive right past the drive-thru lane and opt for leaner meats and plenty of vegetables and fruits to help keep your saturated fat intake low.

Move more — There’s really no way around it; if we’re talking about health, exercise will always be part of the equation. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week for adults. That’s 30 minutes five days a week. If you have 30 minutes to commit to catching up on your favorite show, you have time to exercise. What’s even better is that it doesn’t take 30 consecutive minutes of exercise to improve heart health. Every little bit counts, so if it’s 10 minutes here, and 10 minutes there, find ways to get moving and get your heart rate up for at least 150 minutes a week.

If you focus on just one aspect of your health, make it your heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death and we could all do more to take better care of our hearts. Understanding how to maintain a healthy heart is the easy part. Making a habit of heart healthy living takes a conscious effort and determination to stick with it.

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