Improving Your Heart Health, One Step at a Time

Without a healthy heart, every day is nerve racking. You worry each time you feel the slightest discomfort that today is the day your heart will give out. Instead of worrying your days away, take positive steps to improve your odds.

The first thing you can do to improve your heart health is to stop smoking. Any treatment for heart disease will be undone by the damage to your health caused by cigarettes. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by increasing your blood pressure and your blood’s ability to clot.

Smoking also prevents you from participating in physical activity, further adding to your chances for heart disease. In America, smoking accounts for nearly 444,000 of the country’s annual 2.4 million deaths, according to the American Heart Association.

Other risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, high blood cholesterol, obesity and genetic predisposition. You can’t control your genetic makeup, but you most certainly can have a positive effect on your weight. A reduction in your overall weight will significantly improve your heart health and potentially keep you from having to suffer through surgery, hospitalization and treatment for heart disease.

Instead of being dependent on blood pressure pills and cholesterol medication for the rest of your life, try to use foresight in your daily routine. If you don’t want to die of a heart attack before your daughter gets married or your grandchild is born, you’re going to have to drastically change your lifestyle.

This may sound overwhelming at first. After years of eating cheeseburgers, you can’t imagine being the guy that orders a salad at lunch. Well, every great accomplishment starts with a first step. Try simple steps to improve your heart health. Replace one bad habit a week with one good habit.

Instead of having potato chips for a snack while you’re watching television at night, cut up two small bananas and a cup of strawberries into slices. Enjoy the flavor of these fruits and their heart health benefits. Potassium has been proven to lower your risk of heart disease, and these foods are cholesterol free.

The following week, step out and replace another bad habit with a healthy one. Instead of watching a little bit of television after dinner, get out and walk around the block. Start off simple. The fresh air and the sunshine will lift your spirits, and the simple act of walking improves your heart health.

Then, step up your routine a single notch. If on Monday you walked around the block once, aim to go for an extra block on Wednesday. Before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to your walks and going a distance you never imagined possible. Exercise doesn’t have to mean killing yourself on a treadmill or lifting heavy weights at the gym. It simply means you need to increase your activity level a little bit at a time to improve your overall heart health.

The only person that can improve your current and future health is you. Your heart isn’t invincible. Years of punishing it with cigarettes, high cholesterol foods, a lack of exercise and other risky behaviors will eventually catch up with you. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get out, get active, change your habits and get a new lease on life with a brand new set of heart healthy habits.

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