Although cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death and disability in the United States, there are a number of things you can do to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Healthy food habits can help you reduce three of the major risk factors for heart attack: high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess body weight. The best way to help lower your blood cholesterol level is to eat less saturated fat, avoid cholesterol and control your weight. Here are some other nutrition tips:
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and grain products, especially whole grains.
- Consume fat-free and low-fat dairy products, fish, beans, skinless poultry and lean meats.
- Limit foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
- Eat less than 6 grams of salt a day.
- Have no more than one alcoholic drink (no more than 1/2 ounce of pure alcohol) per day if you're a woman and no more than two drinks if you're a man.
Physical activity is good for your entire body, especially your heart. While getting into a regular exercise routine is great, there are a number of quick ways to easily add more physical activity into your days:
- Take the stairs — Get in the habit of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you are going to a high floor, take the elevator part of the way — either walk up a few flights and then catch the elevator, or get off early and walk the rest of the way.
- Go for a walk — Even a short walk around the block or through your office can help get your heart rate up and invigorate your body.
- Clean the house — Vacuuming, dusting and even doing laundry gets you up and moving around.
- Garden — Raking leaves, mowing the lawn and pruning plants all get you outside and active.
- Shop — When running errands or going to the mall, park farther away and walk the extra distance. Wear your walking shoes and take an extra lap or two around the mall.
- Talk on the phone — Stand up while talking on the phone or, better yet, walk around when using a cordless or cellular phone.
- Play — Play and recreation are important for good health. Look for opportunities to be active and have fun at the same time.
- Find a buddy — For many, it is easier to be active with a partner. Make a date with a friend to enjoy your favorite physical activities and try to get into a regular routine of being active together.
- Go dancing — Both fun and physical, dancing is a great way to enjoy moving and grooving.
These are just a handful of the many simple ways you can increase the physical activity in your daily routine. The trick is to be creative and consistent.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.