Choosing a healthy lifestyle is the best way to keep yourself in great shape, both physically and emotionally. When you look good, you feel good too. Living a heart-healthy lifestyle becomes very important as we age. Heart problems are a major cause of illness in older people, especially in the western world where fast-food is so popular. Most heart problems can be prevented with proper exercise and an excellent diet. However, once a heart problem makes itself known, it is much harder to go to the gym and get in shape, which is why prevention is key. On the other hand, living a heart-healthy lifestyle helps people recover from heart problems much faster and can ensure that future health problems don’t develop.
Replace bad habits
One of the hardest steps towards living a heart-healthy lifestyle is quitting bad habits. For example, smoking, drinking or eating junk food on a regular basis are major risk factors for increased blood pressure, high cholesterol and, eventually, heart problems. Quitting smoking is no easy task, but it will have the largest effect on your health compared to all the other steps combined. If you are struggling with smoking or alcohol, there are medications and counseling services that are quite effective. If you are determined to quit bad habits on your own, it is a great idea to replace these habits with good habits. For example, if you feel the need to smoke or drink, go to the gym and run or exercise until the craving is gone. Making yourself a healthy snack to munch on is another way to replace a bad habit with something healthier. Cravings only last a few minutes, so do your best to power through them. As an added benefit, exercising and eating well can help lower your weight, which means that your heart doesn’t have to work quite as hard.
Stress is a big deal when it comes to heart problems. A stressful lifestyle can cause high blood pressure and can encourage bad habits such as smoking and drinking. For most people, stress comes from work pressures or family drama. The first step is identifying the parts of your life that you find stressful. When you feel angry or upset, try to pinpoint what the exact cause of your frustration might be. Once you can label the source of the stress, you can work towards reducing its effect on your health.
For example, if family problems are causing you stress, there are counseling services available to help foster healthy communication and strategies towards a more supportive family environment. Maybe you are with a toxic partner and need to change your life in a big way. If your job is causing too much stress, a career change can be in order or perhaps a chat with someone at work who you trust can help you get through a tough time. Not getting the promotion you deserve? Time to fight for it. One of the best strategies to manage stress is to see problems as exciting challenges instead of hopeless disruptions in your life. That way, working through a problem provides a sense of accomplishment instead of a sense of failure that may add to your stress.
The final step to living a heart-healthy lifestyle is choosing a diet that is geared towards making sure that your weight and blood pressure stay within a healthy range. This type of diet would include high fiber foods such as shredded wheat, whole grains, fruits and vegetable such as broccoli and cauliflower. Consuming meats that are low in fat is another important feature of a heart-healthy diet since excess fat and grease can raise your cholesterol and increase your chances of having a blockage in one or more arteries of the heart. When it comes to snacks, try to choose a small bowl of fruit or a handful of nuts. Lastly, sugar intake should be kept to a minimum. Many foods that are advertised as healthy options actually contain excessive quantities of sugar.
Choose yogurt that has not had any added sugar. Remember to read all packaging labels to see if sugar has been added to your granola bars, trail mix, and salads.
Too much sugar causes inflammation throughout the body and some new studies show that long-term inflammation can be a cause of high cholesterol. Completing these three steps will drastically change how you look and feel after only a couple of months. It may be difficult at first, but it is a worthwhile commitment to having a healthy heart that will last you a lifetime. There is no better gift that you can give to yourself and your loved ones than health. After a few weeks, living a heart-healthy lifestyle will become second nature and you won’t ever look back. Take the plunge today, your future self will thank you!