Developing habits to help protect your heart can have lasting effects on your overall health and well-being. Since the risk of heart disease increases with age, there is no better time to adopt lifestyle choices that can help improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of a serious heart-related event. Show your heart some love with these helpful tips.
Add exercise to your daily routine
Physical activity is important to improving your overall cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. Even twenty minutes a day of activity can provide positive results.
It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise. Physical activity is anything that moves your body and burns calories. The point is to move your muscles and get your heart pumping. There are safe exercises even for those who don’t get around very well. If you have access to a pool, water exercises like aerobics can be easier on the joints and allow a greater range of motion while getting your heart rate up and strengthening your muscles.
Some activities to try:
- Climbing stairs
- Aerobic exercises
- Strength and stretching exercises
More fruits and vegetables, less saturated fats and sodium
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals and are rich in fiber, which will help prevent cardiovascular disease and allow you to fill up without too many additional calories.
Tip: Try to add the colors of the rainbow to your daily meals, from tomatoes and oranges to blueberries, avocadoes and eggplant. Whole grains also contain fiber and other nutrients to regulate blood pressure for better heart health.
Avoid loading your plate with saturated fats (such as red meats, butter and cheese) and trans fats (such as fried foods, frozen pizza and commercial baked goods) to help keep your blood cholesterol down. While you don’t need to deprive yourself completely, try to make these choices a treat you enjoy occasionally, instead of every day — balance is key.
Schedule regular check-ups with a doctor
Keeping up with your annual visits to the doctor’s office can help you stay on top of potential issues, monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and allow your medical professional to answer any questions. You may need to visit with your doctor more often if you have heart issues or other risk factors.
Tip: Some people might think that illness or poor health are the only reasons visit to the doctor, but regular check-ups can also be a way to head a condition off at the pass before it gets worse. Sometimes a few lifestyle changes can make a world of difference.
Practice good sleep habits
Sleep plays an important role in your heart health and when you’re not getting quality rest, it can lead to elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and increased inflammation. Oftentimes, a healthier diet and regular exercise can have a positive effect on your sleep and allow you to wake up with more energy.
Tip: Give yourself time to wind down in the evenings and create a sleep-friendly environment that is quiet, comfortable and free from technology and distractions. If you regularly feel tired in the afternoon, grab a 20-minute power nap to rest and recharge.
Learn to reduce and manage stress
Stress can make a difference in your heart health, especially for older adults. Everyone has stress in their lives, some more than others, but too much can lead you to make unhealthy lifestyle choices and raise your blood pressure. Just like healthy eating habits, incorporating some helpful mood-boosting activities into your daily life can have a large impact on your physical and mental well-being.
Tips for lowering your stress levels:
- Talking with a friend
- Going for a walk or other exercise
- Spending time in nature
- Listening to music
- Doing a puzzle or art project
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., but there are steps you can take to live a more heart-healthy lifestyle. Making a few changes to your diet and daily routine can help lower your risk factors and improve your heart health. Mom’s Meals® offers delicious heart-friendly and lower sodium meals to help you take care of your heart.