According to the American Heart Association, proper nutrition and exercise
are the best ways to keep your heart healthy. Exercising just 30 minutes
a day can reduce your risk of heart disease and some studies suggest it
may also increase your life expectancy.
Exercise For A Healthy Heart
A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart
disease. Fortunately, it's a risk factor that you can do something
about. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has many benefits. It can:
How Do I Get Started Exercising?
- Strengthen your bones, heart and cardiovascular system
- Improve your circulation and help your body use oxygen better
- Increase energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired
or short of breath
- Increase endurance
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve muscle tone, strength, balance and joint flexibility
- Help reduce body fat and help you reach a healthy weight
- Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and depression
- Boost self-image and self-esteem
- Improve sleep
- Make you feel more healthy, fit, relaxed and rested
Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor about:
- Medication changes: New medications can greatly affect your response to exercise.
- Safe exercises: Doctor's approval is needed before you lift weights,
jog, or swim, etc.
What Type Of Exercise Is Best?
- Stretching: Stretching before and after exercising helps prepare the muscles
for activity, helps prevent injury and muscle strain, and can increase
your range of motion and flexibility.
- Cardiovascular or aerobic: This type of exercise strengthens the heart
and lungs, improves the body's ability to use oxygen, and has the
most benefits for your heart. Over time, aerobic exercise can help decrease
your heart rate and blood pressure and improve your breathing.
How Often Should I Exercise?
In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to
an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times
a week. Exercising every day or every other day will help you keep a regular
aerobic exercise schedule.
Eating Heart Healthy
- Opt for cuts of red meat and pork labeled "loin" or "round."
They usually have the least fat.
- Eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon, trout, herring) at
least twice a week. (One serving equals about 3 ounces cooked, and is
about the size of a checkbook.)
- Select fat-free, 1% fat, or low-fat dairy products.
- Use liquid vegetable oils or soft margarines in place of hard margarine
- Eat more deeply colored vegetables and fruits because they are higher in
vitamins and minerals (spinach, carrots, peaches, berries, etc.).
- Try to eat less than 300 mg. of cholesterol each day.
- Read the ingredient list and choose items that don't have added sugars.
- Try to eat less than 1,500 mg. of salt per day.
- Replace salt with herbs and spices or a salt-free seasoning mix. Use lemon
juice, citrus zest or hot chilies to add flavor.
- Eat about 25 grams of fiber each day.
- Choose breads and other foods that list whole grains as the first item
in the ingredient list.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation (One drink per day for women
and two drinks per day for men.)
- Drink water instead of sugary beverages.
- Cut back on cholesterol and saturated fats.
- Avoid oversized portions.
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smoking cessation program, and kick the habit for good.
Chronic stress can cause high blood pressure and weakening of your artery
walls. Here are some ways to relieve stress:
- Participate in activities that you enjoy, such as reading, walking, or
visiting with friends and family.
- Try deep breathing and meditation exercises.
- Think positively.
- Exercise on a regular basis.