A healthy heart makes a healthy body, but unfortunately, heart disease is extremely common in the United States. Here are some important tips for keeping your heart healthy.
A daily exercise routine helps keep your cardiovascular system strong and reduce risks of heart disease. At any age, there are ways to stay active and physically fit. This could mean taking more walks, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Make plans to go and see friends. Play physical games such as golf, horseshoes, cornhole, tennis, bocce or shuffleboard. Swimming and water aerobics are great low-impact activities to maintain fitness. Dancing and gardening can also help you maintain an active routine. Additional tips:
- Take some time to warm up and cool down (about 10 minutes each)
- Start off slow and build up to more strenuous activity
- Wear a pair of decent athletic or walking shoes
- Stop exercising if you have pain, or feel dizzy or short of breath
- Remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your activity. Take a bottle with you.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
The American Heart Association recommends the following foods to help maintain cardiovascular health:
- A variety of fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products
- Skinless poultry and fish
- Nuts and legumes
- Non-tropical vegetable oils
They also suggest limiting saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, red meats, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. They also recommend a special diet called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.)
According to the Center for Disease Control, smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and causes one of every four deaths from CVD. Smoking can:
- Raise your triglyceride levels (a type of fat in your blood)
- Lower your “good” cholesterol (HDL)
- Make your blood sticky and more likely to clot, which can block blood flow to your heart and brain
- Damage the cells that line your blood vessels
- Increase the buildup of plaque (fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances) in your blood vessels
- Cause the thickening and narrowing of your blood vessels
Get Regular Checkups
To keep your heart healthy, as well as the rest of your body, it’s important to maintain a good relationship with your doctor or health care facility. They can review your medical history and risks, and check your vital signs for any abnormalities. If you do have a cardiovascular condition, you want it diagnosed as soon as possible to avoid bigger problems. Heed your doctor’s advice and have some questions ready for your next appointment. Tell them if you’ve noticed any unusual pains or weaknesses.
Avoid Heavy Drinking
Some research indicates that a glass of red wine a day can benefit your health, but those benefits can also be gained from foods like grapes, grape juice, cranberries and blueberries. According to the American Heart Association, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrhythmia and even death from alcohol poisoning. And as with smoking, heavy drinking can raise your triglyceride levels, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Get Some Sleep
Lack of sleep is associated with heart problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Be sure to avoid caffeine and nicotine, and maintain a regular sleep schedule. If you have the time to take a nap every day, that can help too. The blue light and stimulation of computer and phone screens can make it hard to fall asleep, so avoid electronics after dinner.
Snoring may annoy your partner, but it’s usually not a serious threat to your health. But when it’s accompanied by sleep apnea, it could pose a danger to your cardiovascular health. Sleep apnea is when your breathing pauses during sleep. This can be too mild to notice, or severe enough to wake you up frequently.
Sleep apnea is linked to high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, and heart failure. A sleep study can help determine if you have sleep apnea, which can be treated with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device that involves wearing a mask while sleeping. Another method of reducing sleep apnea is to reduce weight. (See advice above.)
Half of U.S. adults say that COVID-19 has affected their stress levels. When added to all the usual sources of stress, this can be quite a burden to your mental health. And poor mental health is associated with heart issues such as inflammation and higher blood pressure, as well as problems with glucose and cholesterol levels.
To reduce stress and maintain your mental health, pay attention to trigger factors that make you feel uncomfortable. This may include social media or cable news shows. Do the things that make you feel relaxed. This can include walking, gardening, painting, or spending time with friends and family. If you work or volunteer, be sure to take time off. If you invest, lean towards safe investments that won’t make your heart race with their daily or weekly fluctuations.
At Parkwood Heights, we prioritize the health and happiness of our residents. That’s one of the reasons this is a great place to live your best life. A lovely community in which to spend your retirement, Parkwood Heights is located just minutes from Victor, Fairport, Farmington, and Canandaigua. Our picturesque, 122-acre senior living campus affords many opportunities to enjoy your time with friends and family while enjoying our scenic setting. Call (315) 986-9100 to learn more about all that we have to offer or check out our website and reach out if you have any questions.