Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of deaths in the world accounting to 17.7 million people dying of the disorder of the heart and blood vessels every year. Though a leading global killer, most CVDs can be prevented by addressing risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, and harmful consumption of alcohol. As we celebrate Philippine Heart Health Month this February, we emphasize the need to protect our heart. A study from Harvard Medical School suggested to start with ten small steps which people of all ages can easily follow:
1. Take a 10-minute walk. A brief walk is a great way to start the day even if you don’t exercise.
2. Lift yourself up, and some weights too. Lifting a two-pound weight a few times a day can help tone your arm muscles. When you start to become used to it, you can move on to heavier items by joining a gym as strength training helps condition your heart to be more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout the body.
3. Eat more fruits or vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables are cheap, ready available, nutritious, and good for both your brain and body. By eating more fruit, you avoid consuming more calories, more sugar, more unhealthy fats.
4. Start your day with breakfast. Start the day with fruit and whole grains such as oatmeal, cereal, or whole-wheat bread. Whole grains help lower blood cholesterol levels and lessens heart disease risk.
5. Hold the caloric drinks. Cutting out one glass of sugar-sweetened beverage or calorie-filled coffee can easily save you 100 or more calories a day.
6. Have a handful of nuts. Having a craving for chips and cookies? Try to grab a handful of nuts instead. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts contain unsaturated fats, which are the good guys You can also add them to salads for a healthful and tasty crunch.
7. Check what’s under the sea. Eat fish and other types of seafood instead of red meat once a week. It's good for the heart, the brain, and the waistline.
8. Breathe calmly and deeply. Take time gather your thoughts and breathe. Slow and deep breathing may also help lower blood pressure and calm your mind.
9. Wash your hands. Washing your hands with soap and water regularly is a great way to protect your heart and health. Flu, pneumonia, colds, and other infections can have an impact on your heart.
10.Take it easy. When life gives you lemons, try tapping into other positive emotions. Positivity has been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being, the same way anger, worry, hostility, and negative emotions could trigger high blood pressure and heart disease.
Achieving a healthier heart and a healthier life doesn’t need to be costly. By starting small and maintaining your drive to do it every day, it gets easier and you get to go for larger goals.
Written by Reuben Andrew R. Razal