Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. With the Centers for Disease Control estimating that one in four Americans dies from heart disease, odds are that you or someone you know has been affected by it. The good news is that by leading a healthy lifestyle, you can help to lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Although heart disease impacts both men and women, it doesn’t affect them in the same way. Women are more likely to have heart disease if they smoke than men. They can also develop it because of changes in the way their bodies function, like menopause. Men, on the other hand, often have heart disease due to stress, a bad diet, or lack of exercise. By making these simple changes, men can keep their hearts healthy and strong!
Stress can spiral out of control pretty quickly. When stress gets bad, it affects every area of your health: physical, mental, and emotional. It puts a strain on your heart in particular. Learning a few stress management techniques can help you to stop stress in its tracks.
- When you feel yourself getting upset, breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds.
- Walk away from stressful situations. Giving yourself time to think will help you have a healthier response.
- Talk out your issues instead of letting them get bigger.
- Think about something else. Come back to the problem when you’re ready.
You don’t have to spend hours at the gym every day to stay fit. If you haven’t been active lately, start small so that it’s easier to make exercising a habit.
- Take a walk during your lunch break or after dinner.
- Go on bike rides.
- Play a team sport at your local rec center.
- Once you’re comfortable with exercising regularly, add strength and flexibility training to your routine.
And it’s always a good idea to have your friends and family join you – exercise is more fun in a group!
Eat A Little Smarter
There’s no need to go on an extreme diet to improve your heart health. The best diet is one that you can stick to. There are lots of ways to make your diet healthier while also eating foods you like and enjoying your meals.
- Make healthy substitutions, like fiber-rich whole wheat noodles in your spaghetti or grilled chicken instead of fried.
- Switch up your snacks. If you’re craving something crunchy, have raw veggies and dip or a handful of walnuts. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent heart attacks.
- Cook with olive oil instead of butter. Olive oil is packed with heart-healthy fats that can help lower your cholesterol.
- Add fruits and vegetables into your favorite foods. Blueberries are a superfood and contain antioxidants that improve your overall health. They’re also great in cereal, oatmeal, and baked goods!
Don’t Avoid the Doctor’s Office
Men are far more likely than women to avoid seeing the doctor when they don’t feel well. You know your body best, and you know when you don’t feel like yourself. Even symptoms as basic as fatigue can be a sign of heart disease. By going to the doctor when you first notice that something is wrong, you can prevent a potentially bad situation from getting worse. Better yet, make time for regular checkups. A yearly physical includes important lab tests that measure things like blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Your doctor can use those results to help you make healthier choices. In our next Men’s Health Month post, we’ll be talking about steps you and your doctor can take to prevent illness.