7 Lifestyle Choices That Impact Heart Health

Lifestyle helps determine how healthy your heart is. In honor of World Heart Day, we share 7 steps you can take to better protect your heart.

Happy fit senior couple exercising in park.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Despite the many advances in detection and treatment, cardiac-related illnesses contribute to an estimated one in four deaths in this country. Researchers say lifestyle modifications can lower these numbers.

In honor of World Heart Day, recognized every year on September 29, here are steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease.

7 Lifestyle Modifications to Help Prevent Heart Disease

  • Keep moving: A sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise can both increase your risk for heart disease. Don’t fall into the habit of sitting around too much. If you are able, get up and stay moving. It’s also important to engage in exercise and strength training. The general guideline is to exercise most days for a total of 150 minutes a week.
  • Manage your diet: What you eat—or don’t eat—also affects your cardiac health. Talk with your doctor about the DASH Diet and the Mediterranean Diet. Both are linked to better heart health. You could also explore the eating habits of people who live in what are referred to as Blue Zones around the world. In these regions, people experience fewer incidences of disease, including lower rates of cardiac issues.
  • Limit sweets: Elevated blood sugar is tied to heart disease, especially among women. The American Heart Association encourages paying close attention to foods containing added sugar. They recommend limiting added sugars to six teaspoons per day for women and nine teaspoons per day for men.
  • Manage stress: Unfortunately, stress is a part of everyday life. Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiac-related challenges. The key is to find healthy ways to manage it. Journaling, walking, meditating, gardening, and yoga are a few ideas to try.
  • Kick the habit: If you are a smoker, take every possible measure to stop. Smoking is a leading cause of heart disease. One out of four heart-related deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoke, including secondhand smoke.
  • Sleep well: People often underestimate the importance of sleep. In fact, our culture often encourages an overly busy lifestyle with little rest. When you don’t get good quality sleep, you are more likely to make choices during the day that put you at higher risk for poor heart health. Two examples include eating the wrong foods or being too sedentary. Most health experts say seven to nine hours of sleep each night is essential.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: It’s somewhat surprising that consuming too much alcohol may increase your risk for heart disease. While some studies show red wine may be good for your heart, moderation is the key. Ask your primary care doctor for a recommendation based on your personal medical history.

World Heart Day Logo - a red heart.

You can learn more by visiting the American Heart Association online. Here you’ll find recipes, exercise tips, and a variety of heart healthy lifestyle resources.

Live Well at The Wesley

From on-site wellness programs to daily life enrichment activities designed to keep residents moving, we take health seriously at The Wesley. We invite you to call us today at (518) 587-3600 to learn more.