THE best way look after your heart is with a healthy lifestyle.
According to the Heart Foundation, regular physical activity makes you less likely to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. It also helps control other heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight.
Recent research shows even gentle activity such as walking can be beneficial in lowering your risk of heart disease. This could be as simple as taking a walk during your lunch break or walking the grandkids to school. And the best thing is it’s never too late to start and get the benefits.
Here are the foundation’s tips on keeping active:
- Any physical activity is better than none – it’s fine to start with a little, and build up. Try to be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
- Aim to accumulate 21⁄2-5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 11⁄2- 21⁄2 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. Do muscle strengthening activities at least two days a week.
This could mean doing between 30 and 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like brisk walking) most days of the week. You can build up activity in shorter bursts – for example, 10-minute walks.
- Then try to do muscle-toning activities twice a week. This could be body weight exercises (push-ups, squats or lunges), tasks involving lifting, carrying or digging (gardening or carrying shopping), or weights or other resistance training (such as a gym-based weight training program).
No matter how active you are, it’s also important to sit less.
It helps to choose activities you enjoy and vary the type of activity so you don’t become bored.
Set yourself realistic goals and set aside certain times of the day that suit you to be active – you are more likely to be committed if you schedule it into your routine. Be active with friends, family, your partner or join a group.
Check with your doctor before starting an activity program.
Top tips for a healthy heart
Be smoke-free: Not smoking is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart.
Manage your cholesterol: Cholesterol is a fatty substance carried in your blood. Your body needs it to be healthy, but an imbalance of it in your blood can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Manage your blood pressure: Blood pressure isn’t usually something you can feel. If it’s too high, it needs to be treated.
Manage diabetes: It’s important to manage your diabetes to help prevent a heart attack or stroke.
Be physically active: Regular moderate activity is great for your heart. It’s never too late to start and get the benefits.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of heart disease and other health problems. It can help to know your body mass index and waist measurements and what these mean.
Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods: Eating a varied diet of healthy foods can help with your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
For more tips go to heartfoundation.com.au
WHAT is meant by “moderate intensity”,“vigorous intensity” and “physical activity”?
- Physical activity means any activity that gets your body moving, and makes your breathing harder and heart beat faster.
- Moderate-intensity activities make you breathe harder, but you can still talk while you’re doing the activity (eg, brisk walking, dancing, golf, social tennis, or household jobs like washing windows).
- Vigorous-intensity activities make you huff and puff and you can’t talk as easily during them (eg, jogging, aerobics, many organised sports).