There's actually a lot you can do that may reduce your chances of heart disease. In fact, if you're at risk for stroke or heart attack, you may be able to address the issue with some simple, natural changes to your everyday routine. So, what can you do to aid in heart disease prevention?
1. Avoid unhealthy food choices
Smoking, drinking in excess, overeating. These three things have one thing in common: they're unhealthy! If you currently smoke, it's time to quit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend those at risk of heart disease limit their alcohol intake as well. And, of course, when it comes to a diet, you want to keep it healthy.
However, you also need to know which food choices should be avoided to promote heart health. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include:
- Fatty dairy products
- Deep-fried foods
- Red meat
Additionally, it's a good rule of thumb to stay away from trans fats in general. Instead, opt for fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, and whole grains.
2. Get physical
Eating right is one step in the right direction, but you may also want to consider increasing your physical activity to help reduce heart disease risk. Ideally, 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly is what you should be working toward. It's also important to focus on muscle strengthening throughout the body at least two days per week. Depending on your age, this may be easier said than done, but the American Heart Association breaks it down by age for us:
- In your 20s, it should be easy to maintain a regular exercise routine, and changing things up may prevent you from getting bored with your workout and putting the gym on the back burner.
- Once you've reached your 30s, you will likely be juggling work, home, and personal responsibilities, so getting physical may seem impossible. Consider joining the gym at your office, or one on the way home from work. Go for a run or a walk during your lunch break if you are having trouble juggling all of your responsibilities.
- At age 40, you may find that your otherwise trustworthy metabolism has begun to slow down. This means that exercise is key for maintaining a healthy weight—in addition to eating right. So be sure to hit the gym regularly to improve heart health and keep extra pounds at bay.
- By your 50s, retirement may be in sight and you can really start to focus on doing the things you love. If these include anything physical—cycling, golfing, tennis—don't hesitate to spend time outdoors enjoying yourself. A good workout doesn't have to be limited to a treadmill at the gym.
- From your 60s on, it's always best to talk to a doctor before starting any type of fitness routine. Speak with a clinician regarding the current status of your health, and make sure you are well informed regarding the signs of a heart attack or stroke.
Heart disease is a serious issue, and with regular health screenings, a consistent sleep schedule, diet, and exercise, you can start leading the healthy lifestyle you need to keep up with a busy routine.