Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S., accounting for more than 600,000 deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet despite the high rate of mortality associated with heart disease, there are simple things you can – and should – do to help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease so you can improve your overall health and lower your own risk of serious and life-threatening complications.
As with many chronic and acute health conditions, the best ways to prevent heart disease – or to lessen the severity of existing disease – is to make a few simple changes in your diet and exercise routines. Now wait – before you click to another site, hear this: The changes you need to make to help improve your heart health are small – so small, they’re remarkably easy to incorporate into your daily routine, and you don’t have to be a nutritionist or athlete to achieve optimal results from these changes in your diet and exercise activities. Here’s what you need to do, starting today, to help improve your heart health:
- When it comes to exercise, you don’t have to go to a gym or join a team – just be more physically active. The American Heart Association says all it takes is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity – a brisk walk, for instance – five days a week to improve your heart health. You can even break up your activity into 10- or 15-minute intervals if it makes it easier to incorporate it into your regular routine.
- As for diet, small changes work here, too. Eat more fiber and opt for healthy fats from fish, nuts, avocados and good olive oil instead of solid shortenings or animal fats in your diet. Switching from white or processed wheat bread to a whole grain variety and adding oatmeal or other healthy cereals once a day is a great start. Also try switching one sweet snack or junk food item each day with a piece of fresh fruit.
- Finally, lose a little weight. You don’t have to lose a lot – just losing five to 10 percent of your body weight (10 to 20 pounds for a 200-pound person) can reduce your risks for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and inflammation, all of which are major contributors to heart disease. Plus, you’ll also reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Make the first two changes, and losing weight will probably happen naturally, without any extra effort at all.
And that’s it. Just three simple changes to a healthier heart. Since February is American Heart Month, there’s no better time than RIGHT NOW to get started!