February is Heart Healthy Month
We all know how important is to take care of our bodies, especially our hearts. Coronary artery disease is the number one killer in America today. The lifestyle that you live directly determines your risk factor for developing problems later in life. So, knowing what some risk factors are and doing something about it are the best things you could do for your heart.
Smoking– Smoking will dramatically increase your risk of heart disease. Even light smokers, 1 to 10 cigarettes a day, have a 3 times greater risk than those who don’t smoke. There are plenty of programs, support groups and products available to help you or someone you love quit the habit. Always remember that it’s never too late to quit.
Physical Activity– Exercising is extremely important in battling heart disease. As little as 30 minutes of exercise a day can decrease your risk. Studies have shown that people who engage in moderate physical activity lived on average 1.5 – 2 years longer than someone who was sedentary. That number increases to almost 4 years for people who exercise at a higher or more vigorous level. So do your best to exercise for 30, 45 even 60 minutes most days of the week. Do anything that elevates your heart rate. Things such as walking, jogging, swimming, gardening or housework all count. What is important is to just get moving.
Body Mass Index– BMI is a measure of height and weight. There are BMI measurement tools online that can help one calculate their BMI. Health risks increase when your BMI is over 25.
Heart Healthy Diet– There are several dietary factors that have been found to decrease your risk of coronary artery disease. One of these factors is having a low intake of saturated and trans-fats. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products and trans-fats are found in hydrogenated oils. Other factors are increasing one’s intake of fiber, which is found in whole grains, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also try to keep your intake of sugars and refined grains low. When you sit down to lunch and dinner, have a colorful plate – lots of vegetables, brown rice, some lean protein like chicken or fish and fruit for dessert.