As the number one cause of premature death in the United States, heart disease represents a serious individual and public health problem. There are many potential reasons that heart disease is so pervasive in the modern world, with some experts pointing to aspects of our diet and others blaming our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. It’s likely a combination of the two, and ultimately this means that you can reduce (or increase) your likelihood of developing heart-health complications through behavioral choices and lifestyle adjustments. Here are three things you can start doing today to maintain or even improve your heart health.
Appropriate regular exercise is one of the best ways to keep your heart and general health in check. An exercise routine that includes strength training, aerobics, and stretching will yield the most well-rounded health benefits. Aerobic or “cardio” exercise will help keep your blood pressure in check and your heart pumping well. After all, your heart is a muscle, and regularly raising your heart rate can help make it stronger. Experts recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be intense exercise. Playing a light sport, swimming, or even taking a brisk 30-minute walk five days a week should do the trick. Make sure to check with your doctor to clear any new exercise you plan on doing, especially if you have preexisting health conditions.
Another important aspect of a heart-healthy lifestyle is a good sleep routine. Getting plenty of sleep will help boost your energy levels during waking hours, thus allowing you to be more active. This has a synergistic effect, as one of the best ways to naturally improve your sleep patterns is to exercise regularly. A lack of adequate sleep can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke by up to 100%, as reported by a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Furthermore, people who get at least seven hours of sleep per night have been found to have less calcium buildup in their arteries than those getting less than the recommended amount of sleep (at least 7 hours for adults).
There are entire books dedicated to heart-healthy nutrition. Frequently, the advice centers around eating a plant-rich diet and avoiding trans fats. Trans fats are found in fast food and processed baked goods. Trans fats are known to greatly increase the risk of heart disease, whereas healthy fats are crucial to maintaining a healthy heart. In the proper amounts, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and unsaturated fats are all good for your cardiovascular, as well as your overall health. Trans fats, however, have no known health benefits beyond their caloric content. Check nutrition labels for 0% trans-fat content, and avoid anything that contains “partially hydrogenated oils.”
Each of these tips can contribute to your overall health while reducing the risk of obesity. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to keep your heart healthy. In addition to making positive lifestyle choices, it’s also important to regularly monitor your blood pressure and have regular checkups. People over the age of 40 should check their blood pressure daily and have it checked by a medical professional at least once a year. According to the American Heart Association’s most recent guidelines, a healthy blood pressure is between 90/60 (90 systolic and 60 diastolic) and 120/80 (120 systolic and 80 diastolic).
At Village Park Senior Living, we’re devoted to helping seniors live happier, healthier lives. We offer various ways for seniors to maintain and improve their health, as well as a multitude of social activities and amenities. If you’re interested in learning more about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many programs and activities we offer, please contact Village Park Senior Living for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates and to check back soon for a new blog.