Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four deaths in this country is linked to a cardiovascular-related condition. While some problems are due to genetic risk factors, others are related to the choices you make every day.
From exercise and movement to alcohol and smoking, here are some lifestyle tips that can help you keep your heart healthy.
Lifestyle Choices and Heart Disease
- Keep moving: Regular exercise plays an important role in heart health. Staying active throughout the day is equally important. That means reducing the amount of time you spend sitting. Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle can be almost as dangerous for your health as smoking.
- Manage stress: Unfortunately, stress is a part of everyday life for most people. How well you manage it, however, can impact your heart’s health. Finding positive ways to keep stress under control is important. Try exploring stress-reducing hobbies, such as Pilates, gardening, journaling, meditation, swimming, walking, and yoga.
- Watch your diet: Much has been written about the heart health benefits of a Mediterranean style of eating and the DASH Diet. Both focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean proteins. Research shows that people who adopt these types of diets tend to live longer, healthier lives.
- Limit sodium intake: From our restaurants to our reliance on processed foods, Western diets are notoriously high in sodium. Bottom line? Most Americans consume too much salt. Reducing your intake can help lower your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease.
- Monitor your cholesterol: High cholesterol is one of the biggest contributors to developing heart disease. While family history does factor into your cholesterol levels, so does lifestyle. It’s important to work with your primary care physician to have your cholesterol checked on a regular basis and to develop a plan for controlling it if necessary.
- Quit smoking: Most of us think of lung cancer when it comes to the risks of smoking. But experts say tobacco use is also a cause of heart disease and strokes. Secondhand smoke is deadly too. If you are a smoker or live with one, ask your doctor about cessation programs with high success rates. Even if you’ve been unsuccessful in attempts to quit in the past, your heart’s health is worth another try.
- Limit alcohol consumption: This one catches many people unaware. Alcohol consumption damages your health in many ways. When it comes to your cardiovascular system, alcohol consumption increases blood pressure while adding empty calories to your diet.
- Stay connected: Socializing is another way to improve your overall well-being. Seniors who live more engaged lives tend to be healthier. Whether it is volunteering, taking classes at a local community college, or spending time with friends, staying connected with the world around you is important.
Start by making a few small changes at a time and sticking with them. For example, give up two unhealthy foods a week while increasing your level of physical activity.
One more suggestion is to find a heart health buddy who shares your commitment to making changes. You can offer moral support to each other to stay on track.
Live Well during Retirement at a Heritage Community
From a wide range of daily activities to healthy menus, Heritage communities make it easier to live your best life. Contact a community near you to set up a private tour and learn more today!