Healthy Living Tips
Get Up & Go
Enough cannot be said about the benefits of exercise in terms of heart health. Regular exercise helps decrease blood pressure, improve circulation, lower triglyceride levels and raise HDL (good cholesterol). Then there’s the added benefits of boosted confidence, energy, and self-esteem. So what are you waiting for?
If you don’t regularly exercise, you should see your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Then you should start slowly, building up your endurance with the goal of getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise four to six times a week.
It’s important to combine aerobic exercise, resistance training, and stretching in your program. Vary the exercises you do each week to avoid repetitive strain to your muscles and other tissues. And remember to drink fluids before and during exercise.
Regular participation in moderately vigorous physical activity can reduce your risk of fatal heart disease by nearly 25 percent. Exercise also has a positive effect on your bottom line – your weight! And anyone can reap the benefits, regardless of age, sex or physical ability.
No Butts About It - Stop Smoking!
Cigarette smoking is a major cause of disease in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 400,000 deaths occur each year as a result of cigarette smoking. And it’s not just from lung cancer and chronic pulmonary disease; smoking doubles the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Smoking also contributes to osteoporosis, skin wrinkling, peptic ulcers, impotence and problems with pregnancy.
That smoking is bad for you isn’t news to many smokers. But because nicotine is highly addictive both physically and psychologically, it’s just so hard to quit!
That’s why a number of treatments focus on nicotine replacement therapy, which is designed to combat the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. This includes nicotine gum, patches, nasal sprays and inhalers. Antidepressants and other treatment medications are also available to help you overcome your dependency.
Remember, if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Most smokers have quit many times before they finally achieve success. And you’ll see the rewards of quitting smoking quickly. Within one year after quitting, your excess risk of coronary heart disease will drop to half that of a smoker’s.
You Are What You Eat
Here are five ways to help your heart through your diet, whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or simply want to fine-tune your eating habits.
1. Limit Unhealthy Fats and Cholesterol
Cut down on the amount of butter, margarine, and shortening you add to food when cooking, and use low-fat substitutions when possible. When you do use fat, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil.
2. Make Room for Legumes
Add more low-fat protein sources, like legumes, to your diet. Choose skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties. Some types of fish – such as cod, tuna, and halibut — have less total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than meat and poultry. And certain fish like salmon are heart-healthy because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Eat Your Vegetables (and Fruit)
Vegetables and fruits are rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. By eating the recommended 5 to 10 servings a day, you can help curb hunger which may help you eat less high-fat foods. Just avoid smothering vegetables and fruit in butter, dressings, cream or other high-fat garnishes.
4. Select whole grains
Whole grains haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them good sources of fiber and other nutrients. By making simple substitutions, you can easily increase the amount of whole grains in your diet. For example, choose whole-grain bread instead of those with refined white flour, whole-wheat pasta over regular pasta, and high-fiber cereals for breakfast over muffins or doughnuts.
5. Less is More
It’s not enough to know what to eat, you also need to know how much to consume. A simple rule of thumb is to remember to keep your portion size for meat, poultry, and fish small — about the size of a deck of cards. This helps make room for ample servings of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Finally, allow yourself an indulgence every now and then. What’s important is that you eat healthy foods most of the time.