As we approach a certain age, many of us start to consider heart disease and what we can do to prevent it. Why the worry? Well, as the leading cause of death for men and women, almost 600,000 of us, or 1 in every 4 of us in the United States die of heart disease every year.
As we age our bodies lose muscle leading to a decreased metabolism. One way to counteract that is to continue to build muscle into old age by lifting weights and doing resistance exercises. But, another obvious way is to consume a little less. When we do that, we need to realize that we have to get the same nutrients from less food. So, eating “nutrient dense” foods are key. You can get started with this issue by looking at your own BMI and seeing if it is in a normal range. Maintaining a healthy weight is a goal worth achieving for a healthy heart.
We all know it. You cannot keep eating pizza, ribs, wings, and all the desserts forever. Somewhere along the line, we need to start thinking about what we put in our bodies. No diet plan will work, however, if it is so strict and unappealing that we never enjoy our food. The key is not to be rigid, but rather, to make most of your meals healthy and just occasionally indulge. No matter what your current health, it is always wise to check with a doctor before starting a whole new way of eating. Below are some general guidelines to increase your chances of a healthy heart:
Don’t mourn the loss of ice cream and hot dogs just yet. Some foods that are very enjoyable can also be good for our hearts:
According to the National Institution of Health, there are four types of exercise: Endurance, Flexibility, Balance, and Strength. Of these, endurance, or “cardio” exercises are the best for a healthy heart. Endurance/cardio exercise increase the heart and breathing rates and include things like walking, running, hiking, swimming, biking, aerobics, etc. It is important to do some cardio every week – how much depends on your health factors. It is important to always check with a doctor first before starting any new exercise routine, particularly if you are advanced in age or have any other chronic conditions. If while exercising you find yourself feeling dizzy or unable to catch your breath, you are probably working too hard and should stop.
A simple regular walking routine is also an easy and accessible option for many. Ask your doctor for suggestions that are right for you.
Is it a myth to die of a broken heart? Have you ever had a “racing heart” when you were excited? Or did your heart ever feel like it was beating up into your throat when you were frightened? Frustration can even lead to a tightening feeling in the chest. Even ancient people have long associated the human heart with our emotions.
As it turns out, the connection is true. Chronic frustration, stress, fear and even depression can be bad for the heart and lead to an increase in heart disease. Some research has suggested that three things can be particularly healthy for our hearts:
Gratitude. No matter what the situation, most of us have something to be grateful for. Making a list and conjuring the feeling of gratitude about what you can appreciate about your life every day appears to have a real effect on the smoothness and rhythm of the heartbeat. So, a few minutes a day to remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for can lead to a healthy heart.
Laughter. Watch comedies on tv, read the comic strip in the paper, and hang out with fun people who have a good sense of humor.
Connection. Being isolated and not having much social engagement is shown to have a relationship to higher rates of heart disease. Get out, find a group, take a class, call an old friend – your heart will be lighter.
Many people find sleep to be no problem, but some of us can’t fall asleep easily, we wake too early, or we sleep too lightly. Ways to improve sleep:
The research shows the most correlation between sleep and increased risk of coronary heart disease when people are getting less than 5 hours per night. Ideally, most people should have between 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
So, keep a healthy heart in mind as you sleep, eat, and go about your day. If you can do even some of these things, it will help!
Aging does not necessarily mean that our cardiovascular system must be diseased. Following the healthy heart tips above can help delay and avoid the issues commonly associated with aging and heart disease. The earlier you start with these good habits the better!
American Heart Association- www.heart.org
Medline Plus- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heartdiseases.html
Mayo Clinic- http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502
Wayne Memorial Hospital- http://www.waynehealth.org/
Goldsboro YMCA- https://goldsboroymca.org/newsite/
Goldsboro Walking Trails & Greenways- http://www.traillink.com/city/goldsboro-nc-trails.aspx