For many people, looking after their heart isn’t the top of their priority list, but incorporating just a few heart healthy tricks into your day-to-day schedule really can help you on the way to improving your heart health.
Looking after yourself and your heart doesn’t have to be difficult; you don’t have to run 10K every night or stop eating your favourite treats completely, simply being more mindful about your lifestyle will help you on the way to implementing changes.
We’re already over halfway through National Heart Month and we feel there is no better time than now to restart and reboot your heart health to lead you on the path to a truly healthy heart.
Many people are aware of this, but quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart and overall health. Quitting smoking can majorly increase your life expectancy and it can also reduce the chances of contracting various diseases.
Quitting smoking has both immediate and long-term effects on your health. Immediate effects include:
- Your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal after just 20 minutes
- Nicotine blood levels, poisonous carbon monoxide and oxygen begin to return back to normal after eight hours
- After two days your lungs begin to clear and your sense of taste and smell begin to return
When you quit smoking, you’ll also have more energy than you did prior to quitting. This is due to improved blood circulation, so you’ll find running and even walking that little bit easier if you quit.
One of the biggest benefits of quitting smoking is the decreased chance of a heart attack. After just one year of being smoke-free, your chances of a heart attack are now half of a smoker’s.
If you’ve been contemplating quitting smoking, but are too afraid to pursue it on your own, there are many support groups and methods out there that will steer you in the right direction. Remember, a healthier and happier you will come out at the end of it.
The heart is a muscle and like any other muscle in your body, it gets stronger and healthier if it is exercised.
Now, many people cower away or run in the opposite direction if they hear the word exercise, but when you exercise, you don’t have to do the workout of an Olympic athlete – unless you want to, that is.
Any amount of exercise is beneficial to the heart. It is recommended that you do two and a half hours of moderate exercise every week, such as brisk walking or swimming, or alternatively, an hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous activity, such as running or cycling at a rate of 10mph or more.
Exercising allows the heart to beat with less strain, meaning more oxygenated blood can be pumped around the body effectively. Exercise will also lead to improved cholesterol levels and lowered fat levels, further reducing the chances of a heart attack in the future.
Eat and Drink Right
Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is one of the main factors in achieving a healthy heart.
It’s super easy to fill up on the wrong things; the majority of these foods just taste so good and fill the gap in your stomach, but overeating these fatty and sugary foods only lead to gaining weight and an increased chance of heart health issues in the future.
It’s easier said than done, but be mindful about what you put on your plate and in your lunchbox. Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients but are very low in calories, so if you’re feeling peckish, pick up an apple or pear and snack on that.
As well as eating the right foods, it’s important you drink right too. Fizzy drinks have been found to have a link to heart disease due to the amounts of sugars in them. It has been claimed that drinking three cans a day can TRIPLE your risk of heart disease.
If you drink alcohol, it is important that you do so in moderation. Excessive drinking can increase blood pressure which is one of the most significant risk factors for having a stroke or a heart attack. Heavy drinking can also lead to a weaker heart muscle, meaning it can’t pump blood as effectively as it should be. When drinking, drink in moderation and with the guidelines in mind.
There really is no better time to reboot your heart health than National Heart Month; restarting now will set you and your heart up for the year ahead.
Throughout your daily routine, maybe you already incorporate some of the listed ideas here... And if you do we want to hear about it! Leave us a comment below and let us know what you do to look after you and your heart on a day-to-day basis, or Tweet us @defibshop and join in the National Heart Month conversation on social media.