The heart is the engine that pumps blood throughout the human body and allows you to exercise, heal, and go about your daily activities.
Maintaining a healthy heart is essential to enjoying a long active lifestyle and can be done by practicing a handful of good habits.
Here are some tips to keeping your heart strong:
1. Consistent Exercise
Make it a goal to exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Remember the heart is a muscle, in order to keep it strong it must be exercised. Swimming, running, and cycling are great cardiovascular exercises to get your heart pumping and also burn fat.
If your free time is limited try to find small breaks of 10 or 15 minutes throughout the day and do what you can. Consistency is what’s important; even if you can’t do a lot all at once, some activity is better than none.
2. Eat A Healthy Diet
This is quite possibly the most difficult thing for most people to do as healthy food is always convenient for everyone.
Avoid fast food as it tends to contain lots of additives, sugar, and saturated fats. Do your best to avoid saturated fats especially, they are what clogs your arteries and slow blood flow. A healthy diet is the hardest thing to maintain, but the benefits later on in life definitely make it worth it.
Healthy unsaturated fats that are found in nuts, fish, and olive oil are actually very good for the heart and combined with combined with simple carbs like those in fruit and complex carbs found in foods like bread and pasta, can give you a well-balanced diet.
Fish is one of the best sources of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids you can get so feel free to indulge there as well.
3. Avoid Tobacco Products
Smoking and chewing tobacco are known to greatly increase your chances of developing heart disease. The heart is put under much more strain when you smoke or chew because the nicotine narrows your blood vessels, making it harder to pump blood throughout your body.
Consequently, use of tobacco products can severely inhibit your ability to exercise as well.
4. Get A Healthy Dose of Vitamins
No matter how hard you try, odds are you won’t get all of the necessary vitamins and other nutrients out of your diet every day. A one-a-day multivitamin (We recommend Total Balance) or form of Vitamin D could go a long way to keeping you healthy and making up for the less than nutritious day you might have had on the go.
This is not to say vitamin supplements are a substitute for a healthy diet, but an aid for the days you are a little more on the unhealthy side. Even if you are eating right, a multivitamin definitely doesn’t hurt and only does that much more to ensure you a healthy heart.
5. Visit the Doctor at Least Once a Year
Do your best to keep an eye on your overall health by making a habit of seeing the doctor once a year. If your family has a history of heart problems or you think you may be having some occur suddenly, consider a heart screening for a more thorough exam.
Those who use tobacco, drink a little more alcohol than usual, or lead a sedentary lifestyle should really keep an eye on their heart after 40 as that is when the first signs of heart problems brought about by an unhealthy lifestyle tend to show up.
About the author: Sam Foster is a health writer with a passion for running, swimming, and cycling. When he’s not gearing up for his next Iron Man or triathlon he writes for St. Luke’s Hospital, one of the nation’s top hospitals in heart care.
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