Need to Know Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
February is American Heart Month, so now seems like the perfect time to ask what you are doing to keep your heart healthy? If your health and fitness is an important part of your life, as so many of us claim, you should be aiming to improve the way you feel, look and move each year.
Sure, it may get harder with every passing year, but it’s not impossible. There are plenty of examples of people in their 40s, 50s and even 60s who are as fit and healthy now as they have ever been. They may not have the potential to run as fast as they once could, or jump as high as they once did, but they are looking after themselves better than ever. There is always time to start, so why not now!
Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. To improve overall cardiovascular health, it is suggested at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember right? You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day. For people who would benefit from lowering their blood pressure or cholesterol, it is recommended 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories. This includes things like climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefit your heart, and include walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.
The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. It’s easy for walking to become a regular and satisfying part of life. Aim for at least 30 minutes for each walk session to reap the most benefits.
Some easy ways to get you started:
a) Go for a walk every day if possible. Walking is another key aspect of reducing stress as well as burning more fat. The bonus? You can easily participate in a walk with family and friends. Walking allows the mind to wander and you can let go of other tasks for the moment. The rhythmic motion of walking is calming and will help you slow down. Now that the days are getting longer there is no better time to start getting active outdoors.
b) Waiting for the elevator? Take the stairs instead. Start with 3 to 4 floors, and before you know it you will be climbing the Empire State Building Stairs!
c) Go for a swim: According to Harvard Medical School, more vigorous activities can do even more for the heart than walking can. Harvard cites a study that compared various measures of cardiovascular health—such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and maximum energy output—across nearly 46,000 male and female swimmers, as well as walkers, runners, and sedentary people. Swimmers were among those with the best numbers
d) Or a ride: If you’re new to biking or haven’t ridden in a while, you might try stationary biking at the gym as a first step. Stationary biking provides the same heart-health benefits as outdoor biking, and also provides a safer ride that you can do without a helmet or other equipment. You can also easily moderate the intensity of your workout to reflect your current fitness level.
e) According to the Journal of Food Science, “Polyphenols such as chlorogenic acid, which is present in high levels in apple cider vinegar, could inhibit oxidation of LDLs and improve health by preventing cardiovascular diseases.”
f) Drinking three to five cups of coffee daily is linked to lower risk of some heart diseases, like heart failure. So drink up!