The American Heart Association efficiently brings to our attention the importance of the seven pillars of cardiovascular health. The best thing about these good habits is that they all compliment one another, and there is plenty of overlap in their beneficial effects. On a very basic level, getting sufficient exercise, eating right and quitting unhealthy habits can go a long way to benefit your cardiovascular system. Furthermore it reminds us of the importance to receive the appropriate health screenings on a regular basis and stay aware of the condition of our body.
1 – Get active
It is well-known, that most people don’t get nearly as much exercise as they need. It’s easy to find excuses, but plenty of great reasons for incorporating daily exercise into your life. Even with just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, or a bike ride, you can increase the quality and even the length of your life. Being active increases energy and decreases stress, making you better equipped for handling the everyday business. Leading more active lifestyles may result in a decrease of body fat and a boost in confidence.
2- Control your cholesterol
High levels of LDL cholesterol can result in the build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the vessels that supply blood to your organs. Plaque buildup in the veins and arteries can cause blockages that can lead to heart disease and stroke by restricting blood flow. Finding ways to lower your cholesterol allow for the proper functioning of circulatory organs, so your whole body can have access to adequate blood supply.
Getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help keep your cholesterol low. Eating the right foods which are low in cholesterol, trans, and saturated fats, but high in fibers also helps keep control your cholesterol. This contributes to having a healthy weight and allows you to have more energy for exercise as well.
3 – Eat better
Food is the fuel of the body which is constantly working to break it down into the energy and nutrients needed for proper functioning and regeneration. With the wrong kind of fuel, its functioning is limited and compromised. Heart-healthy foods are low in saturated and trans fats, as well as cholesterol, sodium and added sugars. Therefore packaged foods, foods with lots of additives and long lists of unrecognizable, confusing ingredients should be avoided as much as possible. Instead, we should eat foods that are high in whole grain fiber and lean protein, while striving to make fresh produce a large majority of our daily intake.
Most of us have a decent theoretical idea of what kinds of foods we should be avoiding and what is good for us to eat. What we may struggle with, however, is the practical application of incorporating these foods into our every-day diet. The Nutrition Center of the American Heart Association has great resources for every day heart-healthy living.
4 – Manage your blood pressure
High blood pressure is actually the most significant risk factor for heart disease. The straining of blood vessels may cause microscopic tears on their surface, which the body then repairs with scar tissue. This scar tissue, however, traps the aforementioned fatty deposits flowing in the blood, causing a buildup of plaque on the walls of blood vessels. A great way to reduce blood pressure is maintaining a heart-healthy diet and exercise regime which in turn contribute to a healthy weight. Learning how to reduce your stress levels alleviates pressure from your system almost as much as limiting your alcohol intake and avoiding tobacco products.
5 – Healthy Weight
Though healthy weight varies on an individual basis, a person’s ideal weight is typically within a Body Mass Index of 19 to 25. Having too much fat, particularly deposited around the waist is incredibly unhealthy, because it settles in and around our vital organs, impeding their proper functioning. Decreasing our weight also reduces the burden physical burden on our heart, lungs blood vessels and skeletal system. Some simple dietary changes and a slight increase in your physical activity may well be enough to achieve a healthy weight and great improvements in your quality of life.
6 – Reduce Blood Sugar
Are you aware of how your habits affect your blood sugar? Avoid type-2 diabetes and protect your vital organs by reducing consumption of simple sugars found in soda, juices, candy, and sugary desserts. Regular physical activity is an excellent way to improve your body’s response to insulin, an essential hormone that regulates glucose (sugar) and fat in the metabolism and is the transporter which gets ‘food energy’ to our cells.
7 – Stop Smoking
It is no secret that smoking is a life-threatening danger, not just to smokers, but to those around them. Along with being a serious carcinogen, smoking damages the entire circulatory system, and increases risk of coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysms, and blood clots. It reduces your lung capacity, which affects your ability to perform physical activities. The dangers of smoking are immense, but most of them can be reversed starting from the day you quit smoking.
There is no big secret to living a long and healthy life. Rather, healthy lifestyles are composed of a series of small decisions with important consequences. Being mindful of the food we eat, the physical activity we choose, and reducing our exposure harmful substances and habits can create enormous positive changes in our overall health. Since the symptoms of heart disease often remain unnoticed until it’s too late, it is important to participate in preventive screenings on a regular basis.
Source: MyLifeCheck – AHA
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