February is American Heart Month and it’s time to celebrate your heart. The American Heart Association says that as our bodies age, we become more vulnerable to the risk of heart disease and all cardiovascular diseases. Take healthy steps to maintain a strong heart this month and beyond by developing a few healthy habits that you can continue long into your life.
Here are 7 tips to help you keep a healthy heart:
Getting older can make it hard to move around as you once did. However, remaining active is a large part of staying happy and healthy as you age. If activities you once enjoyed are too challenging, adjust them. If you used to love running, but find it’s too hard on your body—switch to brisk walking. The toned down activity is still great for your heart, but is gentler on your body.
High blood pressure is considered a silent killer according to the AHA. About 80 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease. It is important to take action before it is too late. Ask your doctor to be tested for high blood pressure and what steps they might recommend to prevent, or treat the condition. Knowledge is power, and to age well, it is important to fully understand what will keep you healthy. A caregiver can work with you and your family to make sure you maintain healthy levels.
This habit has many negative health effects for your heart; including damaging your blood cells, your heart’s ability to function, and the structure of your blood vessels according to the NHLBI. Let this be the year you quit smoking, no matter how long you’ve had the habit. If you find it’s too difficult to do alone, work with your doctor for suggestions and help. Once you decide to quit let your caregiver and loved ones support you. Having the additional moral support can ease the process of quitting.
When there is too much bad cholesterol in your blood it can build up on your artery walls, which can lead to heart disease. The first step to having healthy cholesterol is going to your doctor for a physical and getting a check-up on your healthy and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Since individuals who are older are more susceptible to high cholesterol, getting these numbers will help you understand where your body is currently and how far you are from where you need to be. Work with your doctor and loved ones to make lifestyle changes that will allow you to feel better and live healthier.
One way to control cholesterol is through a healthy diet. A healthy weight and consuming nutritious foods are cornerstones for you to live a healthy life. Be conscious of the foods you’re putting into your body. Work with your family members or a nutritionist to learn about changes you need to make. Consider working with a loved one or caregiver to prep meals that work best for your diet and lifestyle.
Drinking water can have a big impact on keeping you healthy and feeling vibrant no matter your age. Water helps your heart pump blood through the blood vessels to your muscles more easily. To prevent dehydration, keep a glass of water, or water bottle, near you at all times so you will be reminded to periodically take a drink. If you are out and about a lot, try purchasing a decorative water bottle that you’ll enjoy carrying around and refilling on the go.
Good Night’s Sleep
Many people forget that a good night’s sleep is important when it comes to heart health. Studies have shown that failure to get enough sleep can lead to cardiovascular disease. Do your best to get 6-8 hours of sleep a night to help your body recover and aid in the health of your heart. If sleeping all night has gotten challenging as you’ve aged, talk to your doctor. They can offer suggestions such as habits or changes in your diet that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.