What’s the hardest working muscle in your body? Here’s a hint: there are songs and poems about it, and it’s considered both the metaphorical and literal center of the body. It’s the heart, and it works hard, beating from the time you’re in the womb and throughout your life. How can you repay it for its hard work and faithful service? Take good care of it and keep it healthy. Here, we’ve got some tips for keeping your heart healthy so you can live a long and healthy life.
- First, fill your body with nutritious foods. Fill your plate with whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Keep your consumption of saturated fats, and trans fats, but eat healthy fats, from avocados, nuts, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines. Steer clear of processed foods and sugar as much as possible and limit your sodium intake. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, have a square or two of dark chocolate to curb your cravings; compounds found in dark chocolate can lower your risk of heart disease and reduce inflammation. Avoid heavy alcohol consumption, but feel free to have a glass of wine with dinner, because moderate alcohol consumption helps prevent artery damage and blood clot formation. Get plenty of soluble fiber in your diet, from sources like beans, oats, barley, apples, pears and avocados. Drink green or black tea, one to three cups each day, because it’s linked to a lowered risk of angina and heart attacks. A heart-healthy diet like this goes a long way towards keeping your ticker in good shape.
- Get regular exercise to keep your heartbeat strong. Research indicates that people who exercise regularly can greatly reduce their risk of a life-threatening cardiac event. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, but this doesn’t have to be grueling, unpleasant exercise. Take a walk, do some strength training, or do some yoga if you enjoy these activities. If not, take a dance class, go for a swim, or indulge your inner child and find a way to make exercise into play! You can also find ways to work exercise into your everyday activities, by taking the stairs, parking at the far end of the lot, or doing your housework more energetically. Even sex can be great exercise for your heart: studies show that people with a higher frequency of sexual activity have a lower rate of cardiovascular disease.
- Watch your weight. This goes right along with the other things we’ve been recommending, of course, because eating well and exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight. Be especially vigilant if you tend to put on weight in your middle, because information from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicates that excess belly fat is linked to higher blood pressure and unhealthy levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking is bad for your heart in a number of ways. It strains the heart by raising the heart rate and blood pressure, reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, and introduces artery-damaging chemicals into the body. Fortunately, smoking is one of the top controllable risk factors for heart disease, and when you quit, your heart health begins to improve within 24 hours.
- Do things that make you feel relaxed and happy. Pick up a relaxing hobby. Get a pet. Watch a funny movie or laugh out loud with friends. Take a scenic drive or a relaxing walk. All of these things can improve the health of your heart because they improve heart and lung function while lowering stress levels. Maintaining a positive outlook on life is also good for your heart.
- Take care of your teeth. Did you know that poor oral health can increase your risk of heart disease? Bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream, damaging your heart. Practice good oral hygiene at home, and see your dentist twice a year so any problems can be caught before they become major issues. You’ll not only help your dental health, but also the overall health of your body.
At Parkwood Heights, we prioritize the health and happiness of our residents. Our residents enjoy delicious, appealing, chef-prepared food and have plenty of options for where they choose to dine. Not only do we offer nutritious, restaurant-style meals, but we also have chefs who are well-versed in creating delicious dishes using low-sodium, heart-healthy cooking techniques. There are also plenty of opportunities to get heart-healthy exercise on our picturesque, 122-acre senior living campus, whether taking a walk, joining in a game of bocce or horseshoes, or enjoying a workout at our fitness center. Spend time with friends and family while relaxing in our scenic setting. Those are just a few 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. 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