February is Heart Month. In line with this important annual observance, here are some tips on how to boost your heart health:
Get moving. Your heart is a muscle. Like any muscle, your heart needs exercise to strengthen it. There are three kinds of exercise that boost heart health.
- Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. It also increases overall aerobic fitness and helps cardiac output (how well your heart pumps). Examples include brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, at least five days a week.
- Resistance training can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Examples include working out with free weights (such as hand weights, dumbbells or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats and chin-ups. At least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training is a good rule of thumb.
- Stretching benefits musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues. With good flexibility, you will be being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training. Do stretching every day and before and after other exercise.
Eat heart healthy foods. These include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, berries, avocados, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna) and fish oil, walnuts, beans, dark chocolate (in moderation), tomatoes, almonds, olive oil, and green tea.
Lose weight. Losing just five percent of your body weight can lower your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.
Always eat in moderation. Overeating shifts blood from the heart to the digestive system, and results in faster and irregular heart rhythms, which can lead to heart attack or heart failure.
Quit smoking. Smoking increases heart rate, tightens major arteries, and can cause irregular heart rhythm, all of which make your heart work harder. Smoking also raises blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Shop at Watsons for your heart health medications and other essential healthcare products. Talk to your doctor for more information about heart-healthy lifestyle.