Your healthier heart is just a few steps away.
We've got one of those good news/bad news situations for you. Here is the bad news first. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for most people in the United States? Don’t stop reading because here’s the good news. There are lots of super simple steps you can start today to improve your heart’s health, including these five:
Simple Step 1 — Don’t smoke
Do you smoke? No? Good job, keep it up! Yes? Okay, it’s time to quit. The human body is amazing at healing itself. After just twelve hours of quitting smoking, your heart will feel the difference as it has an easier time pumping blood thanks to the carbon monoxide, a chemical found in cigarettes, leaving your body. After just one year of not smoking, your risk of heart disease is reduced by 50 percent. Even if you’ve smoked for more years than you care to remember, today is always a great day to quit.
Simple Step 2 — Eating healthier
When people think about “eating healthy” the images of kale smoothies and half of a grapefruit with dry toast appear in their heads. But eating healthy doesn’t have to be about drastically changing your diet. The small choices you make add up over time, like choosing to cook with olive oil over butter or selecting 100 percent whole grain bread instead of white bread. Also, choosing foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and certain fish are excellent choices in maintaining a healthy heart.
Simple Step 3 — Get active
We’ve all made this mistake. You decide today is the day you’re going to start exercising and hit the ground running. Then on Day 1, you completely overdo it, and you spend the rest of the week limping around and give up on the whole “exercising” idea. It doesn’t have to be that way. Strengthening your heart doesn’t require running a marathon (though that’s good too). Getting active can mean taking a yoga class, a morning stroll, or choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator every day. The important thing isn’t what you do but that you get up and get doing.
Simple Step 4 — Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is an essential factor in determining your heart’s health. The heavier you are, the harder your heart needs to work to pump blood throughout your body. As you lose weight, there is less fat hanging around forming plaque that can build up and clog your arteries. The important thing to remember is that even a small amount of weight loss (5-10 percent) can improve your heart’s health and reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Simple Step 5 — Everything in moderation
It’s important to remember that change is hard for most people. Especially if changing means enjoying less of the things we love (fried foods, alcohol, not exercising). The “Everything in moderation” phrase is meant as a guideline when it comes to what we’re putting into our bodies. But it’s also great advice on how to begin this new healthy journey. Taking the long game approach to healthy living by making smaller healthier decisions that over time morph into a healthy life. Except for smoking. You should try and quit that immediately.