5 Heart-Healthy Habits
February is American Heart Month, so give yourself some love and assess if your lifestyle is heart-healthy. Prevention is key to keeping your heart pumping optimally, and these good habits can help keep your heart strong.
1. Exercise regularly.
Your heart is a muscle that needs to be worked as consistently as any other muscle to stay strong. Doing aerobic exercise on most days of the week for 30 to 60 minutes helps your heart work efficiently.
2. Eat a balanced diet.
According to the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eating right for your heart means including fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, and nuts in your diet. Avoid red meat, processed foods, and foods high in sodium.
3. Manage your blood pressure.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease. Keeping your blood pressure within your healthy range reduces strain on your heart and arteries to keep you healthy. Incorporating the first two healthy habits into your routine, consistent exercise and eating well, will help keep your blood pressure in check. Managing your stress, limiting alcohol, and avoiding tobacco smoke are also important.
4. Lose weight if needed.
Don’t let the holiday pounds linger. Too much weight puts you at a higher risk for many health problems, including heart disease.
5. Get enough sleep.
Your heart is significantly impacted when your body doesn’t get enough sleep – just as your body needs rest, so does your heart. Lack of a good night’s sleep means your heart rate and blood pressure stay elevated instead of fluctuating normally. While the right amount of sleep varies from person to person, most people need six to eight hours of sleep each day.
Mark Wuchner, M.D., is a family medicine doctor at Scripps Clinic in Rancho Bernardo. He provides comprehensive primary care, with special expertise in sports medicine and preventive medicine.
Looking for a new doctor? To find a Scripps physician near you call 858-256-7559 or visit www.scripps.org/92129.