Forget shark attacks, plane crashes and being struck by lightning. The biggest threat to your health comes from inside your body. Heart disease is responsible for one in four deaths in the United States—and unfortunately, it’s on the rise.
Luckily, unlike those unpredictable causes, you can actually protect yourself against heart disease. By forming and sticking to lifestyle habits that promote good heart health, you can strongly reduce your risk of developing heart disease as you age. Many of these habits take little time or money, but they can have a huge impact on your future. Here’s a few healthy habits you can start today to get your heart into tip-top shape.
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day, Almost Every Day
Regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease. It helps you control your weight and reduces your chance of developing other conditions that could put a strain on your heart, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days is ideal, but even 10 minutes of exercise is better than nothing.
Eat Lots of Fish
It’s been proven that eating a diet that includes fish can reduce the risk of developing heart disease by a third or more. Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that isn’t produced naturally by the human body. If you’re not a fan of seafood, you can still get your fix through white fish like Tilapia. While levels are generally higher in wild fish due to their diet, farmed Tilapia offers similar levels to that of cod, Mahi-Mahi or yellowfin tuna and other popular wild seafood species.
Get Enough Sleep
If you’re not getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep every night, you may be putting yourself at risk for heart disease. One study found that adults who slept less than six hours every night were almost twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as those who slept between six and eight hours every night. Researchers believe this is because too little sleep can cause underlying health conditions such as blood pressure to surface.
Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, but did you know that secondhand smoke contributes to 34,000 premature heart disease deaths every year? If you’re regularly exposed to secondhand smoke at work or at home, your risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30% higher than those who aren’t exposed to secondhand smoke. If you have any family or coworkers who smoke, make it clear to them that you don’t want them to smoke when they’re around you.
In today’s crazy world, many people struggle with stress. However, it’s important to be sure you’re not coping with your stress in unhealthy ways, such as drinking, smoking or eating too much junk food. Find a healthy way to cope with stress that you enjoy, such as knitting, jogging, yoga or meditation.
Know Your Levels
Conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and increase your risk of heart disease. However, most people don’t know if their levels are normal or not because they haven’t been tested. Next time you’re at your family doctor, learn the optimal levels for these conditions and ask to get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked.
By implementing these healthy habits into your everyday life, you’ll be doing your heart a favor. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start a heart-healthy lifestyle!
Photo credits: Maridav / Shutterstock.com, LifetimeStock / Shutterstock.com, Julia Caesar