Today is World Heart Day, so we’ve whittled down 5 easy tricks to keep your heart healthy and in great shapeDid you know that heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide? There are currently over one million Australians living with heart disease, stroke or vascular conditions.
From stress, poor diet and smoking to high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol, there are a number of factors that can affect your heart health. But the good news there are plenty of ways to minimise your risk. By simply changing a few lifestyle habits, you can protect yourself from developing heart conditions later in life.
Here are five sure-fire tips to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Stop smokingSmoking doubles your risk of heart disease. Even if you’ve smoked for years, it’s never too late to make changes and reverse the damage. Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure will decrease and your heart rate will slow to a normal rate.
Maintain a healthy weightExcess weight can put a huge strain on your heart by increasing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. That means your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body, thus building up fat in your arteries. Salt can also increase your blood pressure, so be sure to limit your intake to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Eat heart healthy foodsEnsure you are eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and healthy protein sources, including fish and seafood, lean meat, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds. Try to limit your salt intake, eating too much increases your blood pressure and puts your heart at risk of cardiovascular illness.
Regular exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, manages stress and keeps your heart strong. You are twice as likely to develop heart disease if you don’t exercise. So get moving!
Looking for inspo? Take a look at our beginner's guide to Pilates
Easier said than done, but continuous stress can contribute to a number of health issues. When you’re under emotional stress, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones make your heart beat faster and narrow your blood vessels to prepare your body for a fight or flight response. When you’re constantly exposed to stress hormones, this can cause damage to your artery walls and raise your blood pressure, putting further strain on your heart and making you more at risk of a heart attack.
Here are 10 easy mindfulness exercises designed to zap stress and anxiety into oblivion
Liked our healthy heart guide? We've got plenty more health advice on our Health & Wellness Edit, guaranteed to give your body a well-deserved boost. Suffer with hayfever? Here's how to nip it in the bud (excuse the pun), if you suffer with joint pain, take a look at this handy guide to keeping your bones healthy and strong.