By: Jill Lee Resource: www.livestrong.com
Keeping your heart healthy and strong helps lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Even better news is that many of the things you can do to have good heart health will benefit you in other ways as well — such as lowering your risk of other diseases including type two diabetes and certain cancers, and helping you maintain a healthy weight so that you’re looking your best. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your heart health.
Exercise at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes every day. Regular physical activity helps condition your heart and control your weight. Try activities such as walking, jogging, swimming or biking to help you get the exercise your body needs.
Eat healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, low-fat proteins and whole grains. Avoid foods with high levels of saturated or trans fats and sodium. If you eat prepared foods or canned soups, opt for reduced sodium varieties. Cook with olive oil or margarine instead of butter, meat fat or shortening.
Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease and other medical conditions. If you’re female and your waist measures more than 35 inches or more than 40 inches if you’re male, talk to your doctor about a weight-loss plan that includes cutting your daily calorie intake and exercising regularly to help you shed the pounds and improve your heart health.
Quit smoking or chewing tobacco. Nicotine narrows your blood vessels and increases your heart rate, making your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body. The chemicals in tobacco products can also permanently damage your blood vessels and lead to heart attack.
See your doctor regularly for routine tests and health screenings. Your doctor should regularly check your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. If you have risk factors, your doctor may screen you for other medical conditions that can affect your heart health, such as type two diabetes.
Take time each day to relax and laugh. Stress can increase your risk of heart problems, and a 2000 study conducted by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that participants with heart disease laughed less and had a more difficult time recognizing humor than participants who had healthy hearts.