Your heart pumps blood around your body around 60-100 times a minute, making it one of the hardest working organs. It doesn’t need any extra work, but if you’re carrying too much excess weight, it puts a huge amount of strain on your heart, which can lead to heart disease or a heart attack. Here’s why it’s so important to keep your heart strong and healthy.
Being overweight isn’t just about your appearance, it’s a major health issue which can lead to a number of serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. It can also affect a person’s joints, breathing, sleep, mood and energy levels.
Generally, doctors use the term ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ to describe a person who is at serious risk of developing weight-related issues. In today’s modern world, there are more children and adults who are overweight or obese than ever before – which means there has been a massive spike in the number of people who are being diagnosed with diabetes or other weight-related health concerns.
So what can you do? If you’re significantly overweight, it’s best to first speak to your doctor or a dietician, as they’ll be able to create a personal eating and exercise plan. Your aim should be to lose weight long-term, so don’t be tempted by any quick fad-diets as they rarely work and you often end up putting on even more weight a few months later.
Essentially, to keep your heart strong and healthy, here’s what you need to do:
- Get moving. Your heart needs exercise as much as the rest of your body, so aim for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day, 3-5 times a week. Cardiovascular exercises make your heart beat faster and work harder, and examples of these exercises include brisk walking, cycling or jogging. Remember to start off slowly and work your way up to more intensive and lengthy exercise programmes.
- Check and monitor your cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar levels – as these are the main indicators of a healthy, or unhealthy, heart. Because you generally get these checked at your doctor – they’ll be able to pick up on any problems that need addressing
- Stress, depression and anger all work to increase your blood pressure, and are common causes of hypertension. In fact, research has shown that people who are depressed are FOUR times more likely to have a heart attack. To help relieve symptoms of stress and depression, chat to your doctor about prescribing medication, or to recommend a herbal remedy. You should also try getting outdoors more, exercising, meditating and doing activities that you enjoy.
- Know your family history. Heart disease and depression are both hereditary, so if either run in your family then there’s a chance that you could develop them too. If you speak to a doctor about your symptoms, it’s important that you mention your family history too.
- Eat for a healthy heart. Make sure the majority of the food you eat includes healthy fats (avocados, nuts, and olive oil), fibre, nutrients, vitamins and minerals. If you don’t think you’re getting a balanced diet, consider taking a multivitamin or omega oil supplement.
So there you have it, the basis of what you need to keep your heart strong and healthy. Remember, heart disease and heart attacks can be avoided simply by eating well, getting enough exercise, and avoiding too much stress.