6 Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Taking care of your heart is important at every age. February is Heart Health Month. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is still the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. But there are steps we can all take to reduce our risk of heart disease and strokes.
As a cardiology nurse, I understand how important it is to lead healthy lifestyles and make exercise part of our regular routines. It’s one of the reasons I became a fitness instructor, too. Here are six simple ways to start improving your heart health:
- Eating healthy- avoiding foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol. They raise blood cholesterol levels and promote atherosclerosis (a hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being obese is linked to higher LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower HDL (good) cholesterol as well as high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Get regular exercise. Leading a sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough physical activity are linked to heart disease and can also impact a variety of general health risks, all of which in turn raise heart disease risk: obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and diabetes.
- Stop smoking. Tobacco can have as serious an effect on your heart as it does on your lungs, raising both heart disease and heart attack risks.
- Drink less. Too much alcohol harms your heart in many ways. It raises blood pressure and triglycerides, a contributing factor in atherosclerosis.
- Reduce Stress. Stress can increase your risk of a heart attack and a stroke.
At the Y, we have a variety of resources and programs available to help our members and the community live healthier lives. From fun fitness classes to one-on-one nutrition packages, we inspire total wellness in spirit, mind and body among kids, adults and seniors.
Wendy Porr is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, working for a large cardiology practice in New Jersey. She has more than 20 years of experience working in the area of cardiac health in both hospital and office settings. Wendy also teaches Spin, Barre and Pound exercise classes at Somerset Hills YMCA.