What is the global symbol for love? What is the one emoticon we use to express our love for people places or things? Yes, you are right! It’s the heart (shape).
Everyone knows a heart means love, but not everyone knows how to love their heart. Literally speaking, our heart is the most vital organ second to the brain, yet, many of us may not put our heart’s health as top priority. Statistics by the World Health Organization show that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Although heart disease is predominantly found in men, it is the leading cause of death in women in the United States.
Some risk factors for heart disease include the following:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
These statistics speak for themselves as heart disease is a serious matter. Given the fact, it is vital that we take good care of our heart from early in our years. For those of us who are more matured in years, let’s reflect on whether or not we have taken precaution to maintain a healthy heart. If we haven’t, it’s not too late to start. Here are some easy tips on how to maintain a healthy heart.
- Watch what you eat
90% of the battle when it comes to health and fitness has to do with our diet. You are what you eat. Eating healthy is as vital as wearing the right clothes for unpredictable weather. Excessive snacking on fatty, oily and sweet foods creates a dangerous environment for your heart. Fatty and oily foods increase your cholesterol and possibly clog up vital arteries that channel blood into the heart.
What to do instead: Eat moderate portions of food. If hungry, try preparing rolled oats, fruit or veggies such as carrots and celery. These low calorie foods help burn fat as well as boost antioxidants. Taking daily supplements such as zinc and iron will also strengthen your heart and overall well-being.
- Get active!
This comes as a no-brainer. When looking to get healthy, we need to get up off our butts and work out a sweat. No fitness model ever got in shape by sitting on the couch watching movies. Exercise increases blood flow, releases harmful toxins via sweat and also keeps out minds alert. As we push our body to move, we also take our mind off our emotional and psychological challenges that create stress. A release of endorphins also alleviates our happiness and lowers blood pressure. It is imperative that we invest in our body and more importantly our heart.
How to do it: Start being active by increasing your physical movement. For example, instead of driving to the nearby store, walk/jog there. Also, invest in a gym membership, get a personal trainer to show you correct techniques to workout. A smartband to keep track of your daily activity will be a great help too. Fitness trackers such as Fitbit will keep track of your progress.
- Let go of bad habits
From a young age, we are thought to practice habits that are healthy and productive. In other words, if there are behaviours that are destructive to our health, we have to let go of them. This process is easier said than done, but once it’s done, you will improve drastically. In the case of your heart, bad habits have adverse effects on your life span. Watch out for habits such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, substance abuse and snacking on junk food.
How to do it: Rome was not built overnight – so also, your bad habits won’t dissipate as soon as you’ve decided to stop. Take it one step at a time by giving yourself a reasonable deadline to quite. Gently ease out of the habit as time goes.
Some people think that positivity involves a whole lot of superstitious mumbo-jumbo. But the truth is, staying positive will help your mind and body in the long run. It is a key element to keeping your heart healthy. Many times, heart related issues stem from work and relationship-related stress. This stress can be both mental, emotional and physical. There are ways to control your mental and emotional state so stress doesn’t affect your heart.
How to do it: Part of the key to having a positive outlook is to let go of those things that are bothering you. Remember that some things are out of your control. Work, financial issues and relationship challenges will dissipate as long as you’ve done your part. Keep in mind that the struggles you face are part of the phase you are going through. Keep close with your friends and support group or adopt a dog or cat to keep you company when you’re at your lowest.
In a nutshell, taking care of our heart requires baby steps. There’s no way we can get healthy overnight. That said, we must take precaution to encourage a healthy and happy heart. So watch what you eat, get active, let go of bad habits and stay positive to maintain a healthy heart. Start early and invest in your body. You won’t regret the decision you make to maintain your heart’s vitality.