Sunday, September 25, 2016
Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, therefore it should be taken great care of. Heart disease is the single biggest killer in the UK, though many recorded cases could have been easily prevented. World Heart Foundation are dedicated to promoting the simple yet effective ways that you can adapt your lifestyle to decrease your risk of heart disease. This important month gives you the opportunity to learn about how you can maintain a healthy heart, beat by beat.
1. Watch your waist
Maintaining a healthy weight cuts your risk of heart disease dramatically, as it helps prevent and manage conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Research has also found that carrying excess fat around your middle can increase the risk of heart disease. You can work out if you’re at risk by measuring your waistline. Heart Research UK recommend that a females waist should measure 32 inches or lower and a males waist should measure 37 inches of lower. If your waist circumference indicates that you are overweight and at increased risk of heart disease, ensure to eat well and take part in physical activity to manage your weight.
2. Make a move
To reduce your risk of heart disease and keep your heart healthy, you should aim to complete 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least five days per week. Moderate intensity exercise can include going on a power walk with your friends, enjoying a family bike ride or taking the stairs instead of the lift at work. Keeping active will strengthen your heart, reduce your blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight.
3. Count your cocktails
Drinking more than your recommended daily amount can have a negative effect on the health of your heart. It is recommended that women should not frequently consume more than 2 - 3 units of alcohol and men should not frequently consume more than 3 - 4 units of alcohol per day. But how can alcohol have a harmful effect on your heart? Alcohol is extremely calorific, therefore it can contribute towards weight gain and increased blood pressure. Research has found that in order to look after your heart you should drink below 14 units per week for women and 21 units per week for men.
4. Slow down on the salt
Eating a large amount of salt can increase your blood pressure, in turn, high blood pressure can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Large quantities of salt are often hidden in processed foods, therefore you should work to become ‘label savvy’. Use the traffic light system found on most packaging to educate yourself on the amount of salt in your favourite foods.
5. Embrace a healthy diet
Maintaining a balanced diet will help reduce your risk of heart disease, weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure. You should aim to adapt your eating habits for the long term, crash diets will not provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Make sure to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, choose the right fats by cutting down on foods that contain saturated fats and use herbs and spices to flavour your food instead of salt.
6. Stay stress-free
It has not been found that stress is a direct cause for coronary heart disease, however, it is possible that it may contribute to increased risk. Changing your lifestyle in a positive way can help you deal with the perhaps stressful demands that life can throw at you. Coping with stress by smoking, drinking or overeating can increase your risk of heart disease. Instead of opting for these potentially harmful coping mechanisms, try physical activity, pilates or other relaxation technique. It can also help to write down all of your worries onto a piece of paper, this will help you feel relaxed and less stressed.
7. Stub out smoking
It may not come as a surprise, but smoking is one of the biggest risk factors causing heart disease in the UK. Therefore, if you’re a smoker, stopping smoking is one of the most beneficial steps that you can take towards helping your heart. Stopping smoking has great benefits and it’s never too late to quit; after five years of being a non-smoker, your risk of developing heart disease will return to the same level as someone who has been a non-smoker for their entire life.