Heart diseases are on the rise and are affecting young adults too. But do you know that most heart diseases are the result of an unhealthy lifestyle? Here are 7 lifestyle changes that we can implement right away, to keep our hearts healthy!
1. Have a balanced diet
We often make the mistake of taking in too much of what we like. Too much of something (even healthy food) ends up being bad for us. The Healthy Diet Pyramid by The Singapore Heart Foundation, shows us the four food groups from which we should choose to make up a balanced meal. From bottom of the pyramid to the top, we have Rice and alternative forms of carbohydrates, followed by Fruits, Vegetables and then followed by Meat and alternative forms of proteins. Eat more from food groups at the bottom, and less from those towards the top.
2. Control your fat intake
Saturated fats (present in foods like cheese, butter and margarine) increases our cholesterol levels which in turn, increases our risk of heart disease and stroke. So let’s limit our fat intake by keeping a check on deep fried foods, creamy pastries, cakes, fast foods and aerated drinks. Swap them for healthy options like fruits & nuts.
3. Take time out for physical activity
Sitting down for hours in a day increases our risk of a heart attack. So let’s get moving! Take up any form of physical activity and make it a point to give it 30 minutes each day, 5 days a week. The exercise doesn’t need be strenuous. Brisk walking, swimming, aerobics, yoga, or even dancing can improve our heart health.
4. Change your TV habits
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that too much TV increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and other ailments, because of the sedentary nature of prolonged TV viewing. Simple changes to our TV habits can help. Reduce the number of TV hours to under two a day. And use ad breaks to get up from the couch and move around.
5. Give up cigarettes
Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. But you’d be glad to know that within hours of quitting, according to an article by the Health Promotion Board of Singapore, our body starts showing positive results and is on its way to recovery. Just 1 year after quitting, the risk of heart diseases is reduced by 50%. The same is with people who smoke and have suffered a heart attack. Their risk of a second heart attack reduces by almost half.
6. Make healthy choices
Let’s avoid excessive sugar intake, as it could raise the risk of heart disease even if you aren’t overweight. Swap packaged juice with whole fruit, espresso with green tea, and chips with a handful of roasted dry fruits. We should also avoid taking too much sodium, because it raises blood pressure and forces the heart to work harder than it should. Sodium is often used as preservatives in canned and frozen foods. So it’s best that we stay away from these.
7. Laugh as much as we can
Laughter may just be the best medicine. An article from the American Heart Association suggests that laughing can decrease stress hormones and its effects last 24 hours. Some researchers even suggest that laughing is like a mild workout. Much like what happens when we exercise, laughing also stretches our muscles, makes us breathe harder and boosts our heart rate. But does laughing impact our heart health the same way exercise does? Well, the verdict isn’t out on that yet. But in the meantime, we can’t see how being in good spirits can possibly be bad for the heart.