Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and the number of people affected is consistently rising. The good news is that there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of becoming another statistic.
Even the smallest of changes can make a big difference, so it makes sense to do what you can to reduce your risks and be the healthiest you can be. Here are 4 small steps for better heart health.
Keep an eye on your weight
Being overweight can pose a catalog of health risks, one of which is an increased risk of heart disease. The more weight you have to carry around, the more strain you are putting on your body, so if you are vastly overweight or obese, you should take steps to achieve a healthy weight based on your age and height.
One of the best ways to do this is by calorie tracking to achieve a calorie deficit. A 500 calorie deficit per day equates to roughly 1lb weight loss each week. You must remember that it can take 3-4 weeks for your body to adjust, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t see the weight falling off immediately. Slow and steady losses are more likely to stay off, so take your time and listen to your body.
Consider a whole food plant-based diet
Research suggests that a whole food plant-based diet can prevent and, in many cases, reverse heart disease, so if you currently eat a standard American diet, it’s worth making the switch. Vegetables, legumes, fruit, grains, nuts, and seeds contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, so (apart from B12) they should provide pretty much everything you need for a healthy body and mind.
As well as benefiting your heart, you should feel more energized, focussed and you will probably lose a bit of weight in the process too! If you are currently taking a blood thinner, you must speak to your doctor before making the transition. There may be foods that they recommend you avoid while on medication, so it’s best to check first.
Tobacco contains many different chemicals which affect your heart. When you smoke, your heart has to work harder to supply oxygen to your body, which, in turn, increases your blood pressure and heart rate.
When you quit, your risk of heart disease immediately starts to reduce, so regardless of how long you have smoked or how many you currently smoke, stopping is always a good decision.
Take a walk
Any exercise is good for your heart, but if you are used to leading a sedentary lifestyle, it’s a good idea to ease yourself into it. Walking is a popular all-around exercise that will help to strengthen your heart, increase your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure.
Fresh air and exercise will also help to aid a restful night’s sleep which is also good for your heart health, so why not grab a pair of headphones and some sneakers and get started today?