Your Heart and Your Health

Your heart beats an average of 42 million times per year. Have you noticed it lately? It does its job tirelessly and thanklessly. It doesn’t get a vacation. It doesn’t get a raise. It doesn’t even get a break. Why does it work so relentlessly? For you. While you may take it for granted and hardly give it a moment’s thought, everything your heart does keeps you alive. As you read this, think about ways that you can make its job a little easier and keep yourself healthy. Your Heart and Your Health

Everything Your Heart Does

As your heart beats, it is performing numerous tasks in behalf of your whole body. Your heart pumps blood, which carries nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, delivering them to the tissues and organs that need them. At the same time, your blood also deposits waste products in the liver and kidneys, which work to excrete these from your body.

When your arteries (vessels that carry the blood from the heart) are clogged or damaged, it makes it even harder for your heart to pump the blood to the rest of your body. Take a look at the following ways that you can reduce build-up in your arteries and avoid some more serious heart problems as well.

Help Your Heart, Help Your Health

Exercise Regularly

Get your blood pumping! Try 30 minutes per day of moderately intense exercise. Getting 150 minutes of exercise per week can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.

Take the Time to Relax

Stress can raise blood pressure and damage your artery walls. Take a little time for yourself every day to de-stress — whether you choose to do calming breathing exercises, take a soothing bath, or practice some anxiety-releasing stretches. Your body needs that release.

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

People who are at risk for diabetes, pregnant, or over 40 should keep a close eye on their glucose levels. You should be checked at least every three years by your health care professional to make sure you’re in a safe range.

While we’re on the subject of sugar, it would also be very beneficial to take a closer look at your sugar intake. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day — less than what’s in just one can of sugar-sweetened soda.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight, and especially carrying your weight around your midsection, can dangerously raise your risk for heart disease. Find a weight management plan that works for you and stick to it.

Eat Healthy

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits are a healthy way to satisfy your sugar craving, and the high fiber content will help control blood sugar levels. Fruits such as raspberries and blueberries are high in antioxidants, which are also great for your heart. Legumes, nuts, and foods high in vitamin C are also a great addition to your diet.

Omega 3 fatty acids are the healthiest fat for your body. Load up on foods such as fish, olive oil, and walnuts. According to the AHA, omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. At the same time, avoid foods with trans fats, as researchers have found that these raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.

Maintain Your Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure tells you how hard your heart is working (or over-working) to pump your blood through your body. Being aware of your numbers is very important. You can’t always tell that you have high blood pressure just from how you feel. Getting tested is really the best way to know what your levels are. Ideally, your blood pressure should be around 120/80. If yours is much higher than this, you could be at risk for heart disease.

Quit Smoking

Cigarette smoke, even second hand, causes your arteries to thicken and narrow, leading your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to rise. Quitting smoking can decrease your risk of heart disease significantly. For more information on how giving up cigarettes can improve your health, check out this link.

With everything that your heart does during any given day, it deserves anything that you can do to makes its work easier. Don’t let heart disease take you by surprise. Take charge, and make sure your heart is there for you for years to come. Help your heart, help yourself.

 

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