As we approach a certain age, many of us start to consider heart disease and what we can do to prevent it. To mark World Heart Day, we’ve put together this guide for improving your heart health with these useful tips:
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for a healthy heart. As we age our bodies lose muscle leading to a decreased metabolism. One way to counteract this is to continue to build muscle into old age by lifting weights and doing resistance exercises. Another way is to consume less whilst eating “nutrient dense” foods including fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
Exercise more often
Endurance/cardio exercise increase the heart and breathing rates and include things like walking, running, hiking, swimming, biking, aerobics, etc. It is important to do some cardio every week – how much depends on your general health and well being (please ensure you check with a doctor first before starting any new exercise routine particularly if you are advanced in age or have any other chronic conditions). If while exercising you find yourself feeling dizzy or unable to catch your breath, you are probably working too hard and should stop.
Laugh more, stress less
Chronic frustration, stress, fear and even depression can be bad for your heart health and lead to an increase in heart disease. Some research has suggested that three things can be particularly healthy for our hearts:
- Laughter: Watch comedies on TV, read the comic strip in the paper, and hang out with fun people who have a good sense of humour.
- Gratitude: Taking a few minutes each day to remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for has been shown to have a real effect on the smoothness and rhythm of the heartbeat.
- Connection: Having minimal social engagement is shown to lead to higher rates of heart disease. Avoid this by getting out, taking a class or calling an old friend.
Research shows there is an increased risk of coronary heart disease when people are getting less than 5 hours per night. Ideally, most people should have between 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Follow some of these top sleep tips:
- Limit caffeine intake and stop consuming it by 2pm
- Nap if you feel tired, but limit it to 20 minutes so that it doesn’t effect your longer night sleep
- Keep a regular sleep schedule going to bed and waking the same times every day
- If you are suffering from bad sleeping patterns, consider purchasing a new bed
Following the healthy heart tips above can help delay and avoid the issues commonly associated with aging and heart disease. The earlier you start with these good habits the better!