staying active

Wear It Beat It: Keep your Heart Healthy

June 6, 2017 1:04 pm Published by

This Friday 9th June 2017 marks Wear It Beat It, a fundraising incentive organised by British Heart Foundation to raise vital funds for the charity.

To mark the occasion here are our top tips for keeping your heart healthy:

Healthy Eating

healthy eating

A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stop you gaining weight, reducing your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of some cancers. Even if you already have a heart condition, a healthy diet can benefit your heart.#

A balanced diet 

Everyone should aim for a well balanced diet. Faddy crash diets may not provide the balance of nutrients you need.

The best way to understand it is to think of foods in food groups.

Try to eat:

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • plenty of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible
  • some milk and dairy products
  • some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • only a small amount of foods and drinks high in fats and/or sugar.

Choose options that are lower in fat, salt and sugar whenever you can.

Staying Active 

staying active

Physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart disease. It can also help you control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health – helping you to look and feel great.

Set yourself realistic goals that are specific and achievable. For example, set a goal to walk 30 minutes every day or learn how to swim.

Plan a time to do some physical activity that fits in with the rest of your day and try keeping an activity diary to help monitor your progress and success. If you miss a day, don’t worry – just make sure you start again the next day.

Remember, everyday activities count, so look out for opportunities to be active during the day. (For example, use the stairs instead of the escalators, walk to the local shop rather than taking the car and do some stretches when watching TV).

Involve friends and family to make activities more fun, sociable and enjoyable. Make a list of enjoyable activities, such as dancing and yoga, and place them in a jar. Pick a different activity to do each week. By varying your activities, you are less likely to get bored and lose interest.

Managing Stress 

Managing Stress

Stress is not a direct risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but it’s possible that it may contribute to your risk level. It all depends on your coping mechanisms.

Some people cope with stress with risky behaviour – such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and overeating.

All of these increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

There is no evidence to suggest that stress causes coronary heart disease or heart attacks. But if you have coronary heart disease and experience feelings of anxiety or are under lots of stress, it may bring on symptoms like angina.

Changing your lifestyle in a positive way can help you feel better able to cope with some of the demands put on you. A balanced diet and regular physical activity will help you cope with stress.

If you often feel stressed or anxious, it’s important to learn how to relax.

Some people find that physical activity, yoga or other relaxation techniques can help. You could make a list of things that help you to relax and schedule one every day.

You may need to identify situations that make you feel stressed at home or at work and try to avoid them if you can.

You could also learn techniques for managing stress. If you think you are stressed or very anxious, talk to your GP who will be able to help you decide on the best way to deal with it.

Smoking 

smoking

Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health.

If you’re a smoker, stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to protect the health of your heart. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked.

Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke.

  • Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build up of fatty material (atheroma) which narrows the artery. This can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
  • The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means your heart has to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.
  • The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.
  • Your blood is more likely to clot, which increases your risk of having a heart attack  or stroke.

The good news is that the risk to your heart health decreases significantly soon after you stop.

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