5 Heart Healthy Habits

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Many of the hardest things to do in life are based on good old-fashioned common sense.  So why are they so hard to accomplish?

Let’s face it – in our minds we often think that change is not rational.  Our reasoning is that when we change something in our lives, that often means that we will also lose something – habits that gives us great pleasure.

That is why people burn out so easily on their New Year resolutions.  As you read through these common sense behaviors that are critical to a healthy heart, remember that failure is an event – not a person.  Be willing to take risks to get out of you comfort zone.

Be willing to start, create “baby steps” for change that are based in your behavior, not just your attitude.  It truly is better to act your way into a new way of thinking, rather than thinking your way into a new way of acting.

5 Heart Healthy Habits:

Learn How To Handle Stress and Hostility

A startling 80% of Americans now report experiencing intense, chronic stress over personal finances and the economy. And 30 million Americans take medication to treat depression, but for most people, antidepressants serve mostly as a placebo, scientists now say.

Because Americans are more likely to adapt to stress than quell it, millions are unaware their heart health is at risk.

Chronic stress and coronary heart disease go hand and hand. It’s linked to unhealthy cholesterol levels, hypertension and a host of unhealthy habits that most of us turn to under duress.

Aside from all of this, if you’re often in a bad mood it may be time to address your stress. Studies maintain that hostility may trump the leading predictors of heart disease.

Healthy Habit: 

Quit Smoking

For many, this is a difficult task due to the addictive nature of cigarettes.  Research indicates that cigarette smoking may be to blame for one in five cardiovascular disease deaths. Smoking damages blood vessels by lowering good cholesterol (HDL), complicating blood flow and contributing to high blood pressure. Smoking is also linked to insulin resistance and the cluster of problems that collectively define metabolic syndrome.

Exercise

 This one’s simple to say, but harder to actually accomplish: Move your body! If you’re not burning calories, you’re storing them — as fat. Too much of this means higher triglycerides and LDL — both bad for your heart.

The American Heart Association supports regular aerobic physical activity as it increases both your fitness level and aptitude for exercise. At a minimum, 20-30 minutes of daily exercise can help prevent cardiovascular disease, though embracing opportunities to be more active won’t harm your heart (or waistline!) either.

Healthy Diet

Eating healthy means so much more than just ordering a salad for lunch. Research has uncovered delicious information about whole grains, almonds, exotic juices, and even chocolate!

Common sense tells us why fresh produce is a smarter choice than potato chips. Learn about healthy food options so you’ll develop an arsenal of defenses against salty, sugary, trans fatty foods.  See our blog on Foods That Prevent Cancer.

Watch Your Weight

The nation’s weight problem accounts for 112,000 deaths per year, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease, higher in persons who are overweight or obese, is a consequence of grave importance as it can lead to heart attack and death.

Carrying extra weight can raise your blood pressure, elevate your triglycerides, decrease HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, and put you at risk for serious conditions, like diabetes and cancer. Get the numbers on your scale out of the danger zone by being mindful about diet and exercise.

While consistent exercise is a key element in weight loss, it’s still about the calories.  Remember – moderation is the key to effective weight loss.

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