7 Proven Ways to Live a Heart Healthy Life
Heart problems are becoming increasingly common the world over. One of the major causes is the modern urban lifestyle which reduces physical activity and encourages sedentary habits. Bad diets, misuse of stimulants and an excess of mental stress, tension and anxiety also lead to heart problems. While cardiac medicine has made immense strides over the last few years and previously fatal conditions can now be effectively treated, prevention of heart ailments is always the best policy. You do not need any special knowledge or training to live a heart healthy life - all that is required is a knowledge of what you need to do and the determination to do it. And to dispel a myth, being heart healthy does not mean giving up on life’s pleasures. In fact, good heart health adds to the enjoyment of life.
#1 - Be Active
The heart is a muscle and like all muscles needs to be exercised to remain strong and healthy. Ensure that you get enough exercise each week. The typical amount of exercise for a healthy adult is 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. Whether it is walking, jogging, swimming, playing sports or anything else, regular exercise can be a source of pleasure. Find an activity you enjoy and do it regularly.
#2 - Avoid Stress and Tension
Whether it is work-related or something that affects your family or personal life, there is always going to be stress and tension. If you are involved in something and care about it, you will worry – it is natural. However, you should not let that stress and anxiety control your life. Regular exercise, yoga and meditation are all effective ways of controlling stress and its effect on your heart.
Also Read: Know the Symptoms of a Heart Attack - Act Fast!
#3 - Control Your Food Intake
A bad diet is a major cause of cardiac problems. Even if your total calorie consumption is within acceptable limits, irregular meal times, long stretches without eating, and then overeating because of the intense hunger are all bad for the heart. Unhealthy diets that are full of oily, fatty and processed foods should be avoided. So too should an excess of salt, sugar, red meat and aerated drinks. If in doubt about what you should eat, consult a nutritionist who will be able to design a healthy and enjoyable diet for you.
#4 - Lose Weight
Just because you are eating healthy foods does not mean that you will not become overweight. A proper diet and exercise can help control weight, but that alone is not enough. You cannot eat excessively large portions of food thinking that since you are eating healthy and exercising, it will do you no harm. You will put on weight and that excess weight puts an added strain on your heart. Learn to control your portions and in time you will find that your desire to eat excessive quantities has disappeared and you will feel satisfied with smaller quantities.
#5 - Get Enough Rest
7 Ways to Improve Heart HealthIt is a myth that a person leading a healthy but sedentary life does not need too much rest and sleep. You should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night, irrespective of your lifestyle. When you are sleeping, your heart rate drops and your blood pressure is lower so your heart is able to get the rest it needs to perform efficiently the rest of the time.
#6 - Control Alcohol Consumption, Drugs and Smoking
Another popular myth is that alcohol and recreational drugs use help people relax and unwind which is good for the heart. The opposite is true. This is not real relaxation but forced artificial lowering of the sensibilities that often places more pressure on the heart. Alcohol is okay if consumed in moderation and not on a regular basis. Drugs are to be completely avoided – the momentary pleasure only leads to cardiac and mental problems. As for smoking, the dangers have been well known for years. It is to be avoided at all costs, not just for the heart, but for all aspects of good health. The same is true for all forms of tobacco consumption.
#7 - Go for Regular Heart Checkups
Living a healthy, active and stress free life is wonderful for the heart. But it cannot guarantee that a person will not suffer from heart disease. This could come from genetic or environmental causes or be the unseen result of an injury. Regular cardiac checkups will enable doctors to spot any potential problems in the early stages and start treatment so that the problem is resolved much sooner than if the issue is noticed only when it has reached an advanced stage.
Besides these 7 steps that apply to everyone, irrespective of age or gender, there are other actions that you can take to keep your heart healthy. These depend on your personal tastes and preferences but here are a few examples:
- Take up a relaxing hobby.
- Use music as a means to unwind and relax.
- Aromatherapy is known to be effective in reducing stress.
- Adopt a pet – dogs are known to be great companions and wonderful stress busters.
Your actions in caring for your heart health will go a long way towards keeping you healthy and happy. However, there is always the possibility of an unknown genetic condition or unnoticed illness affecting your heart. These problems usually are not noticed until they reach an advanced stage where treatment and recovery are longer and more difficult. That is why step 7 mentioned above is among the most important. Regular cardiac checkups can spot incipient problems at an early stage when treatment is quick and most effective. The ideal way to have this done is to go to a multispecialty hospital that has both a specialized Cardiology Department and also a range of health checkup packages to suit all ages and health needs.
With a common-sense approach to heart health and regular checkups, you will have the heart health that will allow you to live life to the fullest.
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