The prevalence of heart disease in the United States is cause for concern, and that’s putting it mildly. While we don’t like to use scare tactics, the fact is that heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, and many of these deaths could have been prevented.
To help in the area of prevention, the team here at High Rock Internal Medicine decided to pull together a few heart-healthy tips that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Rather than telling you to lose weight, eat right, and exercise, we’re going to break down these rules of thumb into easy-to-implement practices that will do wonders for your heart health.
1. Put one foot in front of the other
Exercise is one of the most important steps in improving your cardiovascular health, but “exercise” is an awfully broad suggestion. If you’re wondering where to start, why not simply put one foot in front of the other and go for more walks? Whether you take a morning and evening stroll with your dog around the block or you park farther away from the entrance of the grocery store, these steps can add up to a healthier heart.
As you build endurance, you can go for longer walks and maybe even try some light jogging.
2. Ditch the empty calories of snacks
Much of the American diet has, unfortunately, become calorie-rich and nutrient-poor. If you can choose just one snack or drink a day and substitute it with a couple of carrots, an apple, or a handful of nuts, you’d be doing your heart a favor. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts are packed with nutrients that promote heart health and, more importantly, don’t contain saturated fats that lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other cardiovascular problems.
3. Get fishy
Another great way to promote heart health is to add some fish to your diet — about twice a week. Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which combat inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and, ultimately, reduce your risks for heart failure and stroke.
Certain fishes are better than others, including:
- Tuna (canned, light tuna works well)
Each serving size should be about four ounces, so aim for eight ounces of omega-3-rich fish per week.
4. A pound at a time
“Lose weight” is an incredibly simple recommendation for something that can be anything but simple. Carrying extra weight is one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to heart disease, so weight loss is important.
Rather than viewing weight loss as one big endeavor, though, break it down into achievable chunks. For example, the CDC reports that losing just 5-10% of your body weight “is likely to produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars.” To put some achievable numbers to this, if you weigh 200 pounds, 5-10% is just 10-20 pounds.
To help you get started, we offer customized weight loss programs that guide you through healthy and sustainable weight loss.
5. Take a moment
Stress can lead to high blood pressure, as well as stress eating. We understand that life comes with stress, especially recently, so we urge you to take the time to arrange for some quiet moments where you can just rest and breathe deeply.
In fact, deep-breathing exercises can go a long way toward relieving stress, and you can engage in them at any time. A great one to start with is to think of a breathing square and breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and then hold again for four seconds.
If you implement these five tips into your daily routine, you’ll be on the road to better heart health in no time. To learn more, contact our office in Lexington, North Carolina.