February is Heart Month in Canada. It’s the perfect time to raise awareness about heart disease and focus on the ways we can all take extra care of our hearts. After all, a strong heart is at the centre of everything we do and affects all aspects of our lives.
To boost your wellness, try incorporating these healthy heart tips into your daily routine.
Know Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Knowledge is power. By understanding your risks, you can take steps to improve your health. While some risk factors for heart disease cannot be changed, like age and family history, there are some that you can change, or control:
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Carrying extra weight
- Physical inactivity
- Unhealthy eating patterns
It is important to be familiar with the warning signs of heart attack and speak to your doctor or call 911 immediately if you experience any of them. Luckily, there are some simple lifestyle changes that will go a long way towards improving overall heart health.
How To Prevent Heart Disease
Even at a later age, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by adopting healthy habits, such as:
- being physically active
- not smoking
- eating a healthy diet
- controlling your blood pressure
- taking time to relax
1. Move Your Body – Often
At the top of the list and a favourite Senior Living Advice tip, being physically active is the most important thing that you can do for your heart – and overall health. That is because regular exercise can lower blood pressure, ease stress, boost morale, and improve oxygen efficiency, as well as help you lose excess body weight, which can strain the heart.
Start by doing activities you enjoy—walking, swimming, dancing, bowling, pedaling, or gardening, for example. The idea is to avoid sitting for long periods of time every day. In fact, new findings suggest that walking is one of the best things that you can do for your heart.
Speak with your doctor about the type of activities that would be best for you. If possible, aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. It doesn’t have to be done all at once -just 10 minutes twice a day is enough.
Check with your Health and Wellness team for a list of physical activities and exercise classes.
2. Butt Out
One of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), cigarette smoking damages blood vessels and puts extra strain on your heart. Exposure to second-hand smoke can also cause heart disease in non-smokers. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit. Importantly, smokers who quit start to improve their heart health and reduce their risk for CVD immediately.
3. Eat Heart-Healthy Foods
Although you might know that eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, changing your eating habits is often tough. A heart-healthy diet is a balanced intake consisting of a variety of whole foods. It can help you control your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, here are eight heart-healthy diet tips.
- Control portion size
- Eat more fruit and vegetables
- Select whole grains
- Choose low-fat proteins
- Add more fiber to your diet
- Limit alcohol
- Avoid processed foods
- Limit salt and sugar consumption.
As a family-owned and operated company, every All Seniors Living Centre provides healthy and delicious meals customized to meet residents’ dietary needs.
3. Know Your Pressure
Do you know whether your blood pressure is in a healthy range? Blood pressure lower than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal. Blood pressure that’s 130/80 mm Hg or more is considered high. High blood pressure quietly damages blood vessels and leads to serious health problems.
Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to check your pressure so that, together, you can work to keep it in a healthy range. The good news is that the heart-healthy lifestyle and diet changes found in this blog can also help naturally lower your blood pressure.
4. Reduce Stress
Stress causes all kinds of discomforts, from sweaty palms to upset stomach. But did you know that stress can also increase inflammation in your body and put you at risk of heart problems? Chronic, day-to-day stress narrows arteries, raises blood pressure, and makes heart disease more likely. Here are some tips to help bust stress in your life:
- Make time for friends and family
- Get enough sleep
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Have a good laugh
- Practice relaxation techniques or listen to music
- Find a stimulating hobby
- Do whatever helps you relax – just make sure it’s healthy.
Wear Red on February 13th
According to Wear Red Canada, cardiovascular diseases affect 1 out of 3 women, yet many women are under-aware when it comes to their heart and vascular health. Proudly hosted by the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance and funded by the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, Wear Red is celebrated annually across Canada on February 13th to raise awareness about women’s heart and vascular health.
Making The Most of Your Retirement
People are now spending longer in retirement than ever before, and the way you spend your retirement can influence health.
With increased leisure-time, it is essential that you choose an independent or assisted senior living community that offers plenty of opportunity for recreational activity, exercise, purpose, and camaraderie.
If you want to learn more about life at one of our retirement residences, get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you and your senior loved ones maintain heart health during retirement.
Writer – Julianna McLeod
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.