February is American Heart Month, and anyone who has been close to someone with heart disease knows exactly how important it is to keep your heart healthy and functioning well. While many people think it’s tough to keep a heart in great shape, the fact is that there are dozens of simple lifestyle choices that can promote a healthy heart and keep your ticker beating strong and sure for years to come.
10 Proactive Steps to Support Heart HealthWhether there’s a history of heart disease in your family, or you simply want to live a healthier, longer life, these ten simple lifestyle tips are ideal for supporting cardiovascular health and overall wellness.
1. Eat a Healthy DietDiet has far-reaching implications for all aspects of health. From supporting a healthy weight to decreasing the risk of diabetes and cancer, excellent nutrition can make you look and feel better. But did you know it can also help support a healthy heart? According to the American Heart Association, a healthy diet is one of the best weapons in the fight against heart disease. Per their recommendations, people who want to eat for a healthier heart should start focusing on eating more leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Low-fat dairy products and skinless fish and poultry are also recommended.
2. Get ActiveRegular exercise is nearly as critical as diet when it comes to creating a heart-healthy lifestyle. In addition to promoting circulation and increasing the strength of the heart muscle, regular activity can help lower cholesterol, keep body weight in check, and support a happier and healthier outlook on life. As if that weren’t enough, regular activity can also lower your risk of dying from or being affected by heart disease. For best results, develop an aerobic exercise routine that includes activities like walking, running, swimming, biking, or interval training. Each of these exercises promotes optimal heart health and keeps you feeling great.
3. Lose Some WeightLosing weight changes your body’s balance of calories consumed to calories expended. If you lose a bit of weight, it helps your body function better and reduces strain on your heart. The American Heart Association reports that bodies in a healthy weight range circulate blood more efficiently, have an easier time managing fluid levels, and are less at risk for conditions like cancer, diabetes, sleep apnea, and, yes, heart disease. While eating well and exercising regularly will help you lose weight, it’s also wise to talk with your doctor to develop a unique weight loss plan that is healthy and sustainable for you.
4. Limit Your Alcohol ConsumptionWhile it’s true that very moderate amounts of alcohol can have heart protective benefits, going overboard can have disastrous effects. To ensure that the alcohol you’re consuming helps rather than hurts your heart health, follow these guidelines:
- Limit Your Alcohol Intake. EverydayHealth.com says that heart-healthy drinking is incredibly moderate. While a 5 oz. glass of wine with dinner or a 12 oz. beer can give your heart a bit of a boost, going over more than one drink a day will have opposite effects.
- Stay Away From Sugary Drinks. In addition to packing excess calories, sugary drinks like cocktails made with syrup or blended margaritas can spike your blood sugar and wear down your teeth. Stick to beer, wine, or mixed spirits instead.