1. Make and keep regular doctors appointments. Getting routine physicals and having current health records up to date are important. Having a physician that you see regularly will be able to keep tabs of any changes with your health and with your heart.
2. Now is the time to ditch the nicotine. Research shows that quitting smoking can help reduce the risk for heart disease. Nicotine makes your heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket. The good news is that when you stop smoking, your risk for heart disease and stroke can be cut in half just one year later and continues to decline until it’s as low as a nonsmoker’s risk.
3. Stress doesn’t just affect your mind, but it also affects your body and your heart health. Stress is your body’s response to change. The body reacts to it by releasing adrenaline (a hormone) that causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up, and your blood pressure to rise. Constant or continuous stress can be harmful to your heart health. Reduce stress with getting enough sleep, taking time to relax, and exercising.
4. Speaking of exercise, there is probably nothing more that has a bigger impact on heart health than the amount of consistent exercise partake in. Using large muscles of the legs and arms — on most days of the week for 30 to 60 minutes helps your heart work more effi-ciently. Physical activities to improve your strength, flexibility and balance help you stay ag-ile as you age. It’s important to check with your doctor before you begin physical exercise, if it’s been a while since you’ve worked out.
5. An activity that can be considered exercise this winter is shoveling and for some this could be a dangerous activity for your heart. When shoveling keep these tips in mind - push the snow don’t lift the snow, take your time when shoveling, and take plenty of breaks to give your muscles and your heart time to recover.
6. The American Heart Association recently developed new dietary guidelines to help us better understand how to eat healthy and help lower our heart disease risk. The guidelines include eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish and nuts, avoid red meat, as well as sugary and processed foods, and avoid foods high in sodium.
What’s also important to remember is to remember is to ask for help if you need it. Whether that’s shoveling, help around the house, getting a ride to a doctors appointment, or help break-ing a habit. Now is the time to quit unhealthy heart habits and start new ones to help your mind, heart, and body live longer independently.
Emily Lambright is a registered nurse and owner of Embrace Your Health Home Services in the Coldwater/Hillsdale area specializing in diabetes management home care. The business also provides care to those that want to continue residing in their home but need some additional services and assistance, health coaching and lifestyles management for chronic conditions and heart disease. For more information, call 517-439-4119.