The new year is in full swing and hopefully your new years resolutions are still going strong. Other than feeling and looking better, there are many reasons why you should continue to improve your health. For example, being overweight increases your risk for many conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
The latter is the focus of this blog, in honor of American Heart Association’s Heart Health Month of February. Heart diseases and conditions are still the leading cause of death in Americans, but this can be changed by just making a few lifestyle changes.
You've probably heard many heart healthy diet and exercise tips, but what are the best recommendations? When it comes to a heart-smart diet, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains. For physical activity, getting at least 1 to 2 hours of aerobic exercise per week is recommended. If weight loss is your goal, one of the best ways to do so is to increase your aerobic exercises. This article will provide an in-depth guide to smart eating and increased activity. Let's explore.
Heart Healthy Foods
It has recently been shown that your diet plays a larger role in your overall health than what was previously thought. In fact, certain foods can help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. Avocados, for example, have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that mitigate blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Seeds and nuts also contain the same healthy fats that will benefit your heart.
To prevent heart disease, you can consume other foods, such as:
- Whole grains
- Nonfat dairy products
- Egg whites
Further, avoid processed carbs, in addition to sugary and salty foods.
For meats, choose turkey, chicken, or lean beef. Most meat contains unhealthy fats and cholesterol that clog your arteries. Bad fats include trans fats and saturated fats, which are found in:
- High-fat meats
- Dairy products
If you want to eat red meat, choose lean beef that's at least 95 percent lean. And, meats contain protein that will sustain your body as you become active.
One of the best diets for a heart healthy life is the Mediterranean diet. This even leaves room for a glass of red wine to help you wind down from a stressful day!
Moving is Key
You don't have to overexert yourself to burn calories. And, you have a variety of options to consider. Medical experts recommend at least 75 minutes of intense exercise per week. Or, you can perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Overall, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day can help you lose pounds and prevent disease.
The best way to lose pounds quickly is aerobics in the form of jogging, walking, or swimming.
An active lifestyle will make you healthier in the following ways:
- Lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol
- Mitigate your stress levels
- Reduce blood pressure
- Burn more calories
Sometimes it can be hard to fit in some time to work out, but it is really important to spend less time sitting throughout the day to keep your blood flowing. Many studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time every day can increase your risk for many diseases. If you do have a desk job, try to take small breaks to get up and walk around. Maybe, choose the farthest bathroom from your desk or take a quick walk around your building. You can also purchase a standing workstation to avoid sitting frequently.
What Else Should I Do Other than Following Heart Healthy Diet and Exercise Tips?
There are many heart healthy diet and exercise tips, but mental health should also be considered when a heart healthy life is your goal. One of your top priorities should be reducing your stress level. Stress can impact your physical and mental health more than you may think, so it is very important to get it under control.
If you suffer from high stress, engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or physical activity can really help. Plus, doing something like yoga gives you the added benefit of getting some exercise! All exercises can actually help with your mental health because it releases endorphins into your brain, which in turn elevates your mood.
Healthy food gives you the nutrition and energy you need to maintain high spirits. An American Heart Association diet consists of a variety of fruits, grains, vegetables, and nuts/grains to live a healthy lifestyle.
Interested in learning more about healthy living? Click here to learn more about heart health.