Staying heart healthy is easier than you think—8 expert tips you need to know


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Get moving to help your heart stay healthy. (NFC)

February is National Heart Health Awareness month, but heart health should be a focus year round. Our body’s most powerful muscle needs to be well taken care of, and all it takes are simple positive changes in your routine to live your best life. American Heart Association experts shared their top tips for maintaining your heart health, and they’re easier than you think to incorporate. Read on for more.

Life’s Essential 8

There are eight key tips from the American Heart Association you can keep in mind for improving and maintaining your heart health. Doing so will help lower your risk for heart disease, stroke and other major health problems.

“One of the biggest things we want people to know about heart health is that a lot of cardiac conditions are preventable. There are very doable things you can do to prevent those problems, like getting adequate sleep, moving more and eating a healthy diet, knowing your numbers and knowing what your cholesterol is. Prevention is important—this is going to help you to live a longer, healthier life.”

Kim Baldwin, Vice President of Health Strategies, American Heart Association

Wherever you are in your health journey, you can adapt these tips to fit your lifestyle and activity levels—no need to commit to a high-intensity diet or workout regimen. Any step you take towards improving your health is the right one. Check out these tips:

1. Eat better

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A balanced diet will help keep your heart in tip-top shape. (Bham Now)

They say you are what you eat, and while that may not be exactly true, eating well is key to maintaining a healthy heart. Aim for a diet that includes whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds and cooking in non-tropical oils such as olive and canola.

Learn about how to eat better.

2. Be more active

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Get out and get moving! (NFC)

Incorporating healthy movement into your day helps boost your heart health, whether you’re going for a stroll or engaging in an intense workout. Don’t know where to start? Try to find ways to move more throughout your daily routine. Staying active helps you feel, think, sleep and live better, and every active minute counts towards your goal.

According to the AHA, adults should get 2 ½ hours of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Kids should have 60 minutes every day, including play and structured activities.

Learn how to move more.

3. Quit tobacco

Quitting tobacco is not easy, but the good news is, you have support. The first step to quitting is to understand the risks and health effects for you and your family. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the US, linked to about one third of all deaths from heart disease and 90% of lung cancers. Within one year after quitting, your risk of heart disease goes down by half.

Ready to quit? You’re more likely to quit tobacco for good if you create a plan that fits your lifestyle. Learn more about how to stop smoking.

4. Get healthy sleep

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Getting an adequate amount of sleep is more important than you may think. (Unsplash)

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be hard to get much-needed shut-eye at the end of the day. However, it’s a commonly overlooked necessity for heart health. Adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and reduces the risk for chronic diseases. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re finding yourself below that threshold, here are some ways to help you get the sleep you need.

5. Manage weight

If you’re looking to take steps to manage your weight, start by understanding how many calories you take in and your activity level. This will help you set goals and identify changes you want to make. Maintaining your ideal body weight is tough, but it can be lifesaving in the long run, preventing many life-threatening diseases.

If you’re overweight, losing even a few pounds can improve your health, so every step in the right direction counts! Learn more about managing your weight here.

6. Control cholesterol

Man In Black T-Shirt And Black Shorts Running On Road During Daytime
Physical fitness will help you control your cholesterol levels. (Unsplash)

As you probably know, high cholesterol can lead to heart disease. While cholesterol isn’t inherently “bad”, too much of it poses major health risks. Talk to your health provider to track your cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy diet and physical activity to help you stay at a healthy level.

Take control of your cholesterol levels.

7. Manage blood sugar

Keeping your blood sugar levels in check is imperative to your heart health. If it falls out of the target range, it could cause serious health problems like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, vision loss and kidney disease. Talk to your healthcare provider about blood glucose readings and they can provide recommendations for you.

Learn how to control blood sugar.

8. Manage blood pressure

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Keeping your blood pressure in check is essential for your heart health. (CDC)

Want to stay healthier, longer? Keep your blood pressure within an acceptable range. Almost half of American adults have high blood pressure, and many don’t know it. Making simple lifestyle changes like eating well and moving more can enhance your quality of life and help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Learn more about managing blood pressure.

There are lots of different ways to become a healthier, happier version of yourself. Learn more about keeping yourself healthy with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.

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Bluecross Blueshield Of Alabama
Gabby Gervais
Gabby Gervais
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