At Collinwood in Fort Collins, we focus on enriching all aspects of our residents' health, including physical health. Forming healthier habits, no matter how old you are, can support your physical health and help you avoid common health conditions. A heart-healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States according to the CDC. Consider these lifestyle changes to help your heart.
A heart-healthy diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. High-fiber foods can be beneficial for your heart. Slowly changing your dietary habits can make the transition easier. Instead of thinking of your new eating habits as a restrictive diet, focus more on adding the healthier options so they naturally push out the less healthy options, like foods high in saturated fats, sugar or sodium. Work with a dietitian if you want a customized plan with appealing foods for your lifestyle.
Getting physical helps build your muscles and control your weight, but it can also have heart-healthy benefits. When you exercise, you help keep your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels in check, which can support your cardiovascular health. Aim for 150 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity cardio plus 2 or more days of strength training for the best results.
Collinwood makes it easier to get your exercise minutes in each week with on-site exercise programs and walking paths. You can also stay active with your hobbies, such as growing a garden or playing golf. These fitness activities feel less like a workout because they're things you enjoy doing, but they still get your heart pumping and help you reach your daily exercise goals. Always start your new exercise routine slowly, especially if you're not used to working out.
Falling into the overweight or obese category can put you at a higher risk for many health conditions, including heart disease. You're also more likely to develop conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, that contribute to heart disease. Plus, the extra weight you're carrying adds to the stress your heart and blood vessels feel. If your weight is higher than it should be, start with small goals. Other heart-healthy habits, like improving your diet and being active, can also help you lose weight. Your doctor can also help you with your weight loss efforts.
Routine medical checkups let your doctor monitor your health and spot changes early. Your doctor can check your blood pressure and cholesterol to look for increases that could hurt your heart. You can also get personalized recommendations from your health care provider to support your heart health.
Everyone has habits they want to change. Some of those changes can be crucial for your cardiovascular health. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can be particularly bad for your heart. It's never easy to kick these habits, but the hard work can ease the negative impact on your heart. Consult your health care provider for help with stopping if you're having trouble doing it on your own.
Excess stress weighs heavily on your mind, but it can also put strain on your heart. Unmanaged stress can manifest as many physical symptoms, including sleep issues and depression, which can contribute to heart issues. Being stressed can cause you to make unhealthy choices, which can add to the load on your heart. Limiting your exposure to stressors and finding ways to deal with stress you can't avoid, such as doing yoga, guided meditation or deep breathing, can keep your stress levels lower.
Other medical conditions can damage your heart if you don't manage them well. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be particularly hard on your heart. If you've been diagnosed with one of these conditions or any other issues, work closely with your health care team to keep them in check. Taking your medications and doing other recommended treatments consistently is an important part of that management. If you suspect an existing medical condition is getting worse, schedule an appointment with your doctor to evaluate the situation.
Getting the recommended amount of sleep can help support your cardio health. For adults, that's usually between 7 and 9 hours every night. Not getting enough sleep or having difficulty sleeping could increase your chances of having heart issues. Sleep deprivation often causes unhealthy habits that could affect your heart health. This includes skipping exercise because you're tired, feeling stressed about your lack of sleep and reaching for quick, unhealthy foods. Create a comfortable sleep environment and get into a relaxing routine to help improve sleep.
Another sleep issue that could affect your heart is sleep apnea, which causes you to stop breathing momentarily while sleeping. When this happens, your body releases stress hormones that are linked to heart disease. You might have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, always feel sleepy or have a dry mouth in the morning. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about testing. There are easy treatment options, including CPAP machines, to help you sleep better and reduce the toll on your heart.
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