Q: I recently learned that heart disease is the leading killer for people over the age of 65. There is a medical history of heart disease in my family. What are some things that I can do that will keep my heart healthy and strong? – Embree D.
A: This is a great question, Embree, and there are a number of things that you can do to help reduce the risk of heart disease! Before you do anything, however, be sure to consult your physician and get cleared for any dietary or physical activity changes. As I alluded to, living a healthier lifestyle by eating healthier and increasing your physical activity is the primary area you have control over that can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease, and positively affect other areas of your life.
Since heart disease commonly has to do with the narrowing of arteries and blood vessels, lowering your cholesterol through a healthy diet is paramount. Choose foods that are lower in saturated fat, cholesterol and sugar. Opt for fruits and vegetables to help control your blood sugar and keep you feeling full. Processed foods are a major culprit of having many contributors to heart disease. Natural grains and nuts are also great sources of fiber and are great at controlling cholesterol.
Have you been to the Winter Park Farmers Market on Saturday mornings? There are a lot of great natural foods there and it’s a great way to learn about new foods directly from the people who grow them.
Secondly, exercise is one of the best ways to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is a term often used interchangeably with heart disease and cardiovascular has to do with getting the heart rate up and increasing the oxygen levels in your blood stream. In order to do that, you need to get your body moving! The Mayo Clinic suggests that you do 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day to help reduce the risks of heart disease. This can mean walking, jogging, using the elliptical machine or riding a bike. Whether you’re outside or in the gym, get moving! They also suggest that you get a baseline cholesterol reading in your 20s and get it checked every five years thereafter. If you’re already past your 20s, still consult a doctor about your cholesterol levels and think about who you may know who are in their 20s that this information may benefit now.
Besides just getting your blood flowing and your heart rate up, exercise strengthens your body in other ways that help fight heart disease. It can help reduce your blood pressure, control stress, decrease depression and control your weight. All of these are factors that contribute to heart disease and are mostly in your control.
Take control of your diet and exercise to reduce your risk of heart disease. But you’ll also take control of so much more in your life through these changes that may help you live longer, happier and healthier. During the month of October, Anytime Fitness-Winter Park is offering a free customized 30-day Get Started fitness plan guided by one of our personal trainers and a free nutrition plan through a nutritionist. So, if you don’t know where to start, come see us to help you get started and get to a healthier place!
Patrick McGaha, Jr., member experience manager at Anytime Fitness, Winter Park, is dedicated to building a welcoming environment in the club, conducive to helping members and clients reach their health fitness goals. To get your fitness and nutrition related questions answered by a certified personal trainer, or for a free personal training session, call us at 321-972-5833 or email [email protected].