Heart disease can happen at any age, which is why Go Red For Women wants you to consider your heart health at every age. Juggling a family and career has probably left you with little time to worry about yourself. Life is a balancing act, but your health should always come first. Now is the time to build heart-healthy habits. That means living a healthy lifestyle, including eating healthy, getting lots of physical activity and a full night’s sleep. Studies have shown that if you can avoid the conditions that put you at risk for heart disease until you turn 50, chances are good that you may never develop it. Make your health a priority.
By now, you should already know your risk for heart disease, including your family history, and not smoke. Here’s what else you should do to stay heart-healthy in your 30s.
Tame your stress.
Long-term stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage the artery walls. Understand what causes stress, and learn helpful stress management techniques for you to reduce stress at work or to reduce stress at home to soothe your mind and body. These techniques include deep breathing exercises, daily meditation and finding time each day to do something you enjoy – whatever it takes to knock out stress.
Get enough sleep.
Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle means getting enough sleep. Why? Because your quality of sleep can impact your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends adults get six to eight hours of sleep per night. Over the holiday, get into bed early to give yourself enough time to wind down after your day and to fall asleep faster and more soundly. Or try these tips to improve your sleep.
Choose birth control carefully.
Talk to your doctor about birth control and heart disease so that you can make a fully informed decision based on the risks and benefits. Many types of contraceptives, but especially oral contraceptives, can cause an increase in your blood pressure. If you can safely use an alternative method that doesn’t put your health at risk, consider the advantages. Remember that cigarette smoking and oral birth control use can increase the risk of serious cardiovascular disease.
Eat balanced, healthy meals.
Eating healthy means having balanced meals with plenty of nutrients from foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as proteins and dairy. Train your taste buds now to enjoy healthy foods to prevent excess weight gain that can increase your heart risk as you age. The American Heart Association recommends the following consumption of foods:
- Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day
- Fish (preferably oily fish, like salmon): At least two 3.5-ounce servings a week
- Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce servings a day
- Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings a week, opting for unsalted varieties whenever possible
It is also important to minimize sodium and saturated fats, and to avoid processed meats and sugary drinks to maintain a heart-healthy diet.
Exercise three to four times per week.
The AHA recommends 40 minutes of exercise three to four times per week, according to its new guidelines. Brisk walking, jogging and workout routines you can do at home or with friends all help accomplish your physical fitness goals.
Learn more ways to prevent heart disease on Go Red For Women.