National Heart month.
Staying active, managing your weight, reducing stress, and kicking those bad habits will all help to maintain a healthy heart.
Lots of little changes in your lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Make time each day to work your heart a little bit harder, for instance;
- Take the stairs rather than the lift.
- Walking the dog that little bit faster.
- Involve a friend so you can motivate each other and have fun whilst being more active.
You should include at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. They can be fresh, frozen, dried or tinned. A portion is about a handful (80g or 3oz), for example:
- 4 broccoli florets
- 1 pear
- 3 heaped tablespoons of carrots
- 7-8 strawberries
It's also important to remember that all fats and oils are high in calories, so even the unsaturated fats should only be used in small amounts.
Reduce your salt intake, too much salt in your diet can increase your blood pressure which in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
Although there is no connection between stress and heart disease if you do suffer with heart problems stress can cause angina.
- Taking time to relax and have some time to do the things that make you happy are an ideal way to wind down and reduce stress levels.
- Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help.
- Learn to identify what makes you stressed and try to avoid those situations.
Kicking the bad habits
Smoking increases the risks to your heart, damaging the lining of your arteries by filling them with a fatty substance which can cause angina, strokes or heart attacks.
- Throw away all your tobacco, lighters and ashtrays.
- Do your research and take advantage of all the free support available
- Change your routine, habits are more easily broken when you change routines.
- Think of an alternative action to replace the action of smoking when you feel the cravings start, like bouncing a ball, or doing a crossword.
- Find a mantra to repeat when you feel the urge to have a cigarette.
- Treat yourself with the money you have saved by not buying cigarettes.
- March 13th is National no Smoking day, make that your start date to become a non-smoker.
Visit the British Heart Foundation website for more information on maintaining a healthy heart.