Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help your health in many ways, from keeping diabetes at bay to the prevention of colon cancer. However, a nutritious diet and regular exercise are strongly correlated with heart health. Maintaining a healthy heart reduces your risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. Making dietary and lifestyle changes aren’t always as easy, and some patients need a little guidance. Read on to learn about specific improvements you can make regarding your habits to maintain a healthy heart.
Why Patients Should Manage Their Weight
Most patients are familiar with the fact that being obese contributes to heart problems and hypertension. However, those who are even slightly overweight should be aware of the risks involved. A recent study has indicated men who were just slightly overweight (had a waist-stature ratio close to the risk threshold) had a much higher chance of developing heart disorders than their counterparts with a healthy body mass index (BMI) and waist-stature-ratio more distant from the risk threshold. It’s also long been a concern that men and women with higher amounts of central obesity and abdominal fat have a greater risk of developing heart problems. However, many patients already know about the dangers of being overweight and associated heart problems. How is it possible to make the necessary changes?
Healthier Eating Habits
It’s a myth that you have to eat foods you don’t like simply to be healthy. A lot of it has to do with the way you prepare your food, not necessarily the food itself. For example, instead of frying beef or poultry, broil, grill, or bake it instead. Also, incorporate fish into your diet for healthier fats and proteins. It’s a good idea to avoid “white” starches (breads, potatoes, rice) and look for whole-grain options. Adding beans, fruits, and vegetables to your diet can also make a significant improvement. Women especially can also improve their heart health by taking EPA- and DHA-rich fish oils, magnesium, and Indian ginseng (after consulting with their health professional).
Foods that should generally be avoided include those with added sugars (it’s okay to cheat once in a while), food with saturated and trans fats, foods with high amounts of sodium, and alcohol. Patients are also advised to quit smoking to improve their heart health.
Fitting in Exercise
One of the primary reasons people don’t exercise isn’t lack of motivation–it’s lack of time. Finding that block of time a few hours per week is nearly impossible for some patients. However, your life may depend on it, so it’s essential to find the time. There are little things you can do each day to add more physical activity into your schedule. Some of these include:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Spending part of your work lunch break taking a walk
- Walking more briskly when you do take a walk
- Parking farther away from your destination when you go out
- Doing housework at a faster pace
- Doing more physical work around the house and yard (raking leaves, mowing, gardening)
While it’s generally suggested that most healthy adults exercise four to six times per week, 30 minutes per time, you can easily find these 30 minutes by fitting in some of the suggestions above. Your physician may even have some more ideas more customized to your needs to help you get started when it comes to eating a healthier diet and exercising. He or she may even suggest a particular diet (the Mediterranean diet is a popular choice for many patients) that suits your particular health needs. If you need more information on how to practice healthier lifestyle habits, want to schedule a heart screening, or need a checkup, book an appointment at TrustCare Heart Clinic today. A simple screening can help to catch serious health issues before they become problematic.