Have a Heart?
5 Ways to Increase Its Health
Do you have a heart? Do you want to boost your chances of living a healthier, longer life?
According to a 2018 study in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, women who adopted 5 healthy factors increased their life expectancy by 14 years at age 50, while men increased theirs by 12 years at the same age - compared to women and men who adopted none of the factors.
5 Healthy Habits
Here are the 5 healthy habits highlighted in the study.
1. Regular Physical Activity
The American Heart Association® recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week – or a combination of the two. Try to spread the activity throughout the week, and add in muscle-strengthening activity.
Dancing, brisk walking, and indoor tennis, cycling, and swimming are all healthy choices to get your minutes in.
2. Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
Getting down to or maintaining a healthy body weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) can reduce your risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and premature death. You can estimate your BMI with this online calculator.
Reduce your calorie intake and exercise (see Step 1 above) to help reduce your BMI and shed some pounds.
3. Enjoying a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet includes nutrient-rich foods that provide the protein, minerals, and vitamins your body needs to function at its best. Try to include fruits and vegetables into every meal and snack you have each day. Whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and non-tropical vegetable oils are all additional, essential pieces of the healthy diet puzzle. And of course, don't forget to drink plenty of water daily to stay hydrated.
4. Not Smoking
Smoking cigarettes is associated with higher risk of death from coronary heart disease, since it increases the effects of high blood pressure and high cholesterol (both of which increase the risk of heart disease).
Bottom line: Don't start smoking if you never have, and find a way to quit smoking if you already do.
5. Drinking in Moderation
Overdoing alcohol can increase the level of some fats in the blood (known as triglycerides), which can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, and certain cancers. According to the American Heart Association, "moderate alcohol consumption" means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.*
Learn more about drinking and your health.
*One drink equals one of the following: 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces 80-proof spirits, or 1 ounce 100-proof spirits.