Simple steps that can help you achieve this

A few simple lifestyle choices can prevent many types of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Even a single adjustment can be enormous.

But change can be difficult, especially as you get older. These simple practical steps can help protect your heart.

Just Smoke or Vape

Smoking is likely to cause more harm than any other health choice you make. And it could take an extra toll on Black Americans. The added strain may help explain why black people have twice as many strokes as white people, says Michael Hall, MD, an associate professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

But regardless of who you are or how long you have been smoking, your heart becomes healthier as you stop.

That said, giving up is hard. Many people try and fail dozens of times before stopping forever. But programs for medication, counseling and smoking cessation found in most hospitals can help.

Try not to harden it. Reach out and get support.

Move More

There is no one-size-fits-all option, but exercise is a great first step for most people, says Alan Rozanski, MD, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital Morningside in New York City. “Exercise is a tonic for the body. I see it all the time. You get people moving, and it can change their lives.”

Rozanski says that exercise helps your mind and spirit as well as your heart. For example, research shows that physical activity can reduce depression as well as, or better than, antidepressant medications.

But what if exercise seems difficult or boring? The key is just to start moving.

“Once you get going, the momentum will carry you,” Rozanski says.

You can also create an exercise partner. You’re more likely to stick with it, and you’ll have more fun.

How much is enough?

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise most days. If that sounds like a lot, break it down into 10-minute pieces. Go hard enough to get sweaty and a little out of breath.

Mix it too. Stream a tai chi class one day; the next brisk walk or bike ride. Toss in a few days of strength training to keep your muscles in good shape.

Also try to be active in your daily life.

“Go around and exercise more,” says Todd Miller, MD, a cardiologist and co-director of Mayo Clinic’s Sports Cardiology Clinic in Rochester, MN.

To get more activity into your daily routine, you can:

  • Take the stairs.
  • Ride instead of ride.
  • Let the dog out.
  • Dig in the garden.
  • Take phone calls standing.
  • If you use an activity tracker, add more steps every week or two.

Eat well

There are so many diets. How do you know what’s good for you and your heart? The DASH and Mediterranean diets are good options. These are more than diets, they are long term plans for healthy eating. Both have many vegetables along with fruits, nuts, fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil.

Rozanski likes both options, but says that no single diet is right for everyone. You can not go wrong if you focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and lean plums. And be sure to avoid added sugary, salty and highly processed foods.

Look at your weight (but not too closely)

Extra weight is bad for your heart, especially if it is around your abdomen. Drop yourself a few pounds, and your chances of heart disease drop as well.

But Rozanski says not to worry too much about the scale. If you exercise and eat well, you will lose weight without trying. Remember: As you start to move more, you tend to lose fat and gain muscle. The numbers on the scale may not change much, but you will feel better and you and your heart will be healthier.

Stress Less About Stress

Stress can make you do things that are bad for your heart, such as smoking, eating junk food, or drinking too much.

But stress is not always negative.

“It’s a double-edged sword, and we should not sell it as a bad thing,” Rozanski says. “If you feel stress that produces negative emotions, then you really have to deal with it. But it’s also a car that we can manage and grow out of.”

Rozanski says stress relievers like yoga and deep breathing are great. But it can take longer to get to the root cause of stress.

“It could be time management or finding meaning in your work or relationship or having a support person who can lead you,” he says.

Other healthy ways to manage stress are:

maintain a positive attitude, “Tap on positive emotions,” says Rozanski. “There’s a very strong link between depression and heart disease. Make sure you have strong social connections and work on small things that make you feel better. Write at least three things every day that you are grateful for. . “

Afton Hassett, PsyD, a psychologist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, suggests that you do five nice things for others and one nice thing for yourself at least once a week.

Work out. Once mood-boosting endorphins enter, stress melts away.

Meditate. This is one of the best ways to reduce stress. It’s simple, free, and you can do it anywhere. It can also protect your heart. There are many meditation apps to get you started.





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