Taking care of the engine that drives every movement you make is essential for a happier, healthier you. Your heart is constantly working, constantly beating, and constantly moving oxygen to where it needs to be for vital bodily functions.
Knowing how important this organ is to overall health and well-being, it’s surprising how many people do not actively take care of their heart. This can lead to complications further down the line. However, there are some really easy changes you can make to your daily life that will help improve your heart health.
1. Reduce Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the systolic and diastolic pressure in your heart in a single beat. The perfect blood pressure is 120/80, but most people are usually somewhere around this reading.
There are many factors that affect your blood pressure, including stress, cholesterol, and smoking. If your blood pressure is too high, your arteries will be subject to extra force that can damage the arteries walls. This will create scar tissue that makes it even harder to pump blood effectively around the body. This mean your heart has to work harder to get oxygen where it is needed in the body.
There are a few easy changes you can make in your life to reduce your blood pressure. A big factor is the food you consume. Try to cut back on salt and aim to eat more whole grain and lean protein. Fruit and vegetables are also helpful in reducing your blood pressure.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, and notice no change after making lifestyle and diet changes, it is advisable to speak to your doctor for professional help with managing your blood pressure.
2. Get Enough Sleep
When it comes to sleep, seven is the lucky number. By that, seven hours sleep is the ideal number of hours sleep you should get a night.
Aside from waking up in a better mood, a proper night’s rest has a fantastic range of health benefits. In one study, young to middle age adults who slept seven hours a night were found to have less calcium in their blood. Calcium in the arteries is an early sign of heart disease. This study was compared to a group who slept 5 hours or less, and 9 hours or more.
Getting a good night’s sleep is also good for your blood pressure. When you are tired, you are irritable, which can lead to stress. Stress is a major factor in high blood pressure, so it is best to have a night of restful sleep whenever possible.
3. Engage in Basic Exercise
Strengthening your heart muscles will improve its general health, as well as strengthen your body. On average, you should aim to be doing at least thirty minutes exercise, five days a week.
When people read that all they ned to do is thirty minutes exercise, they probably believe that they need thirty minutes in the gym. This is in fact incorrect and can put people off starting. Just moving your body is enough to count as exercise. This might mean a brisk walk during your lunch break, ditching the car and cycling to work, a short run after work or pinching the kids skipping rope to do some jumps on the spot. Anything that gets the blood pumping can be considered exercise.
You should also be aware of how long you spend sat down every day. Sitting does not burn any calories, so does not give you any beneficial exercise. Investing in a fitness tracker that you wear on your wrist, is a good way of getting an idea of how much exercise vs resting you do a day. Once you know this you can start to set goals and take your first step towards fitness.
4. Give Your Body the Right Fuel
You get out what you put in. This is so true, especially when it comes to what you eat and how it effects your heart. To ensure your engine runs properly, it is important to give it the right fuel. Giving your heart the best means a healthy and balanced diet. This also means consuming a lot more plant based foods, and fewer processed foods.
Fruit, veg, nuts, and seeds are some of the best foods for your body and heart. They are full of nourishment that helps keep cholesterol down, making your heart more efficient. Processed foods are full of sugars and saturated fats, both thought to be a factor in high cholesterol.
The better the fuel, the more efficient your body. If you combine a proper balanced diet with regular exercise, you can strengthen your heart and make each beat count more. You can speak to one of our personal training coaches to see how you can help improve your diet, your lifestyle and overall heart health.
5. Reduce Your Cigarette Consumption
It doesn’t take a genius to know that smoking is bad for your health, especially your heart and lungs. Despite having many different poisons and carcinogens, smoking is still a habit that is taken up by a high percentage of UK adults. The strain that smoking puts on the heart is evidenced by the severe increase in blood pressure, which puts a massive strain on your heart forcing it to work harder to achieve the same result.
Smoking has also been linked to coronary heart disease which is a build-up of plaque in your coronary arteries. Plaque is found in cigarettes, and hardens to restrict blood flow to areas of your body that need oxygen. The more plaque in your coronary arteries, the higher the chance of a heart attack and even death.
Just as dangerously, these plaque deposits can build up around other areas of the body increasing your risk of heart disease, heart attacks and even strokes.
6. Annually Test for Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that means insulin in your body is not processing glucose properly. Millions of people in UK may have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes without even realising it. This can be a serious problem, as high blood sugar can damage arteries if left untreated.
You can get tested for Diabetes in most pharmacies and GP surgeries. The ‘prick test’ takes a small sample of blood and uses an industry tested device to check your blood glucose level. The test does not take more than five minutes, and could tell you if you are at risk of Diabetes.
If your pharmacist or GP tells you that have borderline high blood sugar (also known as pre-diabetes), there are some small changes you can make to reduce the risk. These changes mainly relate to your diet, as that is the primary source of blood sugar in your body. Some of the best dietary changes to reduce the risk of Diabetes include:
- Swap white rice for brown rice
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Aim for your five fruits and vegetables a day
- Reduce sugary drinks and snacks, swap for healthier alternatives
- Swap red meat for fish
Your heart is your body’s engine. It powers every movement you make, and continues to work efficiently until it’s last beat. By looking after yours, you can help ensure that your heart’s retirement is later rather than sooner.
If you are looking for help in taking steps towards a happier, healthier you please feel free to speak to a member of the Active Health Team. We have a wide range of experts that can help devise a personal training programme, improve your performance, or deal with sports injuries to get you back on the road to recovery. Please feel free to contact Active Health Clinics on 01628 626565 or send us an email.