February is National Heart Month and HCA Midwest Health System has some heart-healthy tips to keep your heart beating longer and help you fight heart diease…the number killer of women!
Stop smoking – it’s a nasty habit and is one of the most controllable risk factors for heart disease. Even a couple smokes per day put you at greater risk for health issues.
Trim down your waistline – you don’t have to be super-thin to reap the benefits of a smaller middle. Carrying too much weight around the waist raises blood pressure, negatively affects blood lipids, and can cause other damage to the heart. Exercise is important but limiting calorie intake will make a big difference.
Laugh out loud - not in an e-mail or a Tweet! Laugh from your belly. Research shows laughter helps relieve stress that damages the endothelium, the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels and helps blood flow. So get to chuckling!
Eat fish – studies show that eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, herring, sardines and tuna) can reduce your risk of heart disease by a third or more. Studies also show the heart healthy benefits outweigh the risks associated with mercury or other contaminants you may be concerned about in the fish.
Play to music – whether it’s a rumba beat or your favorite symphony. Find music that gets you moving, raises your heart rate and burns some calories. In one hour you can burn 150-300 calories and this makes a great heart-healthy workout.
Do something relaxing – put your hands to work and your mind will relax. Engaging activities like reading to a child, knitting, sewing or putting together a puzzle helps relieve stress and does your heart a world of good.
Have healthy snacks handy – a good snack rich in antioxidants is good for your metabolism. A handful of raw almonds, blueberries, homemade salsa and fresh broccoli are what you should keep handy. Eating these curb temptations to eat high fat and high calorie snacks.
Stretch your muscles – Practicing yoga makes you more limber and helps you relax, which combats stress. Keeping stress to a minimum doesn’t just feel good, it’s heart healthy.
Cheers with wine – Moderate consumption of wine can raise your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, reduce blood clot formation, and help prevent artery damage. The answer is moderation. Talk with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of alcohol consumption.
Get a wellness check-up – Seeing a physician at least annually is the best way to know your numbers. Keeping your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides in check is important for good heart health. Learn your optimal levels and don’t skip regular physical exams.