Live longer with these 7 heart-healthy lifestyle tips

  • 2 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you want to live a longer and healthier life, apply these seven heart-healthy lifestyle tips to help you prevent heart disease-the #1 killer.

Heart-healthy lifestyle tips

7 Heart-healthy lifestyle tips to lower your risk

The American Heart Association (AHA) offers a list of ideas for lowering your chances of getting a heart attack or stroke. Tune into this list starting now if you want to live a long and heart-healthy life.

1. Be active

Your heart is a muscle and needs a workout. Adults who want to reduce heart attack or stroke risk should aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both spread throughout the week. The AHA also recommends including muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week.

2. Eat a healthy diet

One of your best weapons for preventing heart disease, a healthy diet includes a base of veggies, fruits, whole-grains, lean proteins, fish, and plant-based fats. Eat less added sugar, salt (sodium), red meat, processed meats, highly processed foods, full-fat dairy, and tropical oils.

3. Lose weight

If you are overweight, losing hazardous abdominal fat is a smart goal for your lifelong health. Check your weight status by using a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. Work toward a BMI less than 25 with your weight. If this weight goal is overwhelming, then aim to lose 10% of your starting body weight. For more help on setting a healthy target weight, check out MyNetDiary's blog.

4. Stop smoking

If you are a smoker, then put this one at the top of your list of heart-healthy lifestyle tips. Smoking is harmful to your health and the health of those around you. Don't put it off; just quit now.

5. Manage your blood cholesterol

High cholesterol can clog the arteries. Controlling your cholesterol helps lower risk of artery blockages. The cholesterol panel blood test measures total blood cholesterol as well as the important blood fat fractions that affect your chance of getting a heart attack or stroke: HDL (good kind), LDL (bad kind), and triglycerides. If you don't know your numbers, ask for tests from your doctor.

Basic blood cholesterol goals:

6. Manage blood pressure

High blood pressure significantly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. A blood pressure reading within a healthy range lessens the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys. Aim for less than 120/80. Physical activity, losing weight, following a lower sodium diet, and quitting smoking can help control your blood pressure. If you take a blood pressure medication, take it as directed, and work with your doctor if you need a change.

7. Reduce blood sugar

Over time, high blood sugar can damage the heart, kidneys, and arteries. Many people are unaware they have diabetes. If you are overweight, ask your doctor if you need a type 2 diabetes screening. In fact, anyone age 45 or older should get screened for diabetes.

If you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar is critical to your health. This heart-healthy lifestyle habit will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes complications.

Browse the American Heart Association's website for more information about "Life's Simple 7." Incorporating these heart-healthy lifestyle tips today might save your life.

Original contributions by Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES

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Exercise->Health Other Health Issues->Cardiovascular Disease
Apr 2, 2021

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