Cardiovascular disease affects more than 1 in 3 adults in the United States, yet many people still don’t pay attention to the potential signs of trouble, nor do they take the necessary steps to avoid developing heart problems. When you think about it, the human body is much like a machine and the heart is its engine and as with any machine, if you don’t properly maintain the engine, the machine will break down. It’s really that simple.
With that in mind, here are the 8 worst lifestyle choices you can make in terms of preserving your hearth health:
1. Sitting Too Much – the heart requires a certain amount of exercise in order to function properly. The more sedentary your lifestyle, the more you put the health of your heart at risk. A lack of movement can lead to an increase of blood sugar and fat, both of which can take a heavy toll on the heart. Even getting up periodically and walking around your desk or your office can make a difference. Just remember: the more you sit, the less you’ll be fit.
2. Internalizing Your Problems – stress can be one of the biggest dangers to heart health and studies show that individuals who internalize, keeping everything bottled up inside them, can actually be doing real damage to their hearts. You may think that keeping it in is a sign of strength but all it’s doing is making you more tense, angry and aggravated, all of which can be very bad for you. Finding ways to relieve your tension, whether through talking to someone else, finding something to laugh about or just talking a long walk, can all go a long way to improving your cardiac health.
3. Drinking Too Much – while a small amount of alcohol, particularly red wine, may be good for your heart, drinking too much has exactly the opposite effect. That’s because excess alcohol can put you at greater risk for high blood pressure, high body fat and heart failure. Most doctors recommend no more than two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women.
4. Smoking – this is one of the more obvious no-no’s in terms of heart health. Smoking is proven to lead to blood clots, which can impede blood flow to the heart. It can also lead to build ups of plaque in the arteries. What’s less well known, and somewhat controversial, is the effects of secondhand smoke but they are real. As a matter of fact, as many as 46,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease each year due to secondhand smoke.
5. Not Taking Care of Your Teeth – it may seem like an odd connection to make, but doctors have noticed a direct link between the development of gum disease and heart problems. That’s probably because the bacteria that builds up in your mouth when you have gum disease can then trigger inflammation in other parts of the body, including the arteries. Brushing and flossing every day, then, is something you can do not just for your teeth and gums but for your heart as well.
6. Overeating – one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease is obesity, and obesity is a real problem for men and women today. More than half of men and women in the U.S. are overweight and yet we continue to dole out bigger than necessary portions and indulge in sugar and salt laden snacks. One important thing to remember when cutting back on your diet: most foods labeled “low fat” are not as good for you as you think, since they still tend to be high in calories, so read all the labels carefully.
7. Not Keeping Up With Your Health – the biggest mistake many people make in terms of their heart health is assuming they are not at risk and not checking in with their doctor regularly. Just because you don’t have any of the big risk factors for heart disease does not mean you can’t still develop it at some point in your life. And being healthy at 20 doesn’t guarantee you’ll still be that way at 50. It’s important to see your doctor regularly and be aware of all of your numbers, including blood pressure and cholesterol levels, so that you know exactly where you stand.
8. Taking The Wrong Approach To Exercise – you need to exercise to keep your heart fit, but how you exercise is important as well. Too many people get all enthused about starting an exercise regimen, go all out and then either lose interest or get hurt and give it up entirely. This kind of “stop and start” approach to exercise will not do your heart any good. The slow and steady method is much better…even a small amount of movement on a regular basis is better than not getting any exercise at all.
So there you have it…8 of the worst things for your heart health. Are you guilty of one or more of them? Then do whatever you can to change these bad habits. Your heart will thank you for it.