7 Ways to Protect Your Heart Health

A doctor holding a small toy, red heart.

Every February, we honor American Heart Month, but what is the significance of bringing awareness to this cause? Heart disease kills more people in the US than any other illness, accident, or condition. Continued attention is necessary to educate the public about what you can do to protect your heart health. 

Lake Region Insurance Agency knows the importance of protection in all areas. We assist clients with insurance options for health, life, home, and auto. Affordable and comprehensive health insurance is one of the key pieces of personal wellness, so reach out to us for a quote. 

Protect Your Heart Health Every Day

Cardiovascular disease claims a life in the United States every 36 seconds. But this devastating number can change for the better when we establish new, healthier habits. To help you live your healthiest life, consider these seven ways you can protect your heart health. 

1. Move At Least 30-60 Minutes Each Day

A woman power walking for heart health.
For many with busy lives, spending two hours at the gym is unrealistic. However, the goal is to have 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week. You can break this down to best fit your schedule, aiming for 30 minutes of brisk physical activity a day. This level of activity includes a fast walk or bike ride.

Even short bursts of exercise broken up throughout the day are sufficient to meet the goal. Also, to help with bone health and muscle strength, remember to include two sessions of strength exercise every week. Regular strength training over time will help to maintain normal blood pressure. 

If you are active and participate in vigorous aerobic activity such as running, you can see heart benefits if you reach 75 minutes each week. Consider adding a yoga practice for the added stress reduction benefits that will also help to protect your heart health. 

2. Please Quit Smoking

The best health change you can make to protect your heart health is to quit smoking. Avoiding secondhand smoke is also critical to keeping your heart, lungs, and entire body healthy.

Smoking reduces the oxygen in your blood, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. These effects make it harder for the heart to do its job. The great news is the heart can recover. One year after quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease drops to half of that of a smoker. 

3. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

Healthy fruits and vegetables in a heart shaped bowl.
Your food choices play a tremendous role in protecting your heart health. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes all have heart-protection benefits. Beans, peas, and other legumes help lower your bad cholesterol thanks to their high fiber content. 

Eating less red meat is another way to protect your heart. Make it easy by choosing poultry or fish options a few times a week. If you are ready to explore vegetarian food, there are plenty of meat substitutes now available. You can still enjoy great flavors without red meat.

Avoid processed foods and focus on fresh produce in your food choices. You can reduce your heart disease risk by adding just one serving each of fruits and vegetables into your diet. 

4. Get Sufficient Sleep

Sleep has many health benefits:

  • Mental Health Support
  • Healthy Weight Maintenance
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Lower Cholesterol

For the best heart health, strive for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a regular sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed at the same time daily. Avoid screens for at least an hour before you want to sleep. Keep your bedroom dark and cool to promote a restful night.

If you are worried about sleep apnea, be sure to seek a medical evaluation. Sleep apnea can significantly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. The common signs include loud snoring, breaks in breathing during sleep, or waking up feeling the need to gasp for air. You can manage sleep apnea with a CPAP device that keeps the airways open while you sleep. 

5. Find a Way to Manage Your Stress

A woman meditating for heart health.
Stress management is one of the most important things you can do to protect your heart health. We can’t control all of the things that cause stress. But we can learn how to respond to them in a healthy way. Avoid coping with stress through unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking, or overeating. 

Find healthy alternatives to stress management, such as exercise and yoga. Or establish a meditation routine through the use of an app or website. Hobbies such as reading, journaling, cooking, or creating art are helpful, too. 

6. Go to Your Doctor Regularly

Don’t skip your yearly physical with your doctor, and be sure to talk to them if you have concerns about heart disease. Take time to learn about any family history of heart disease and share this information with your physician. 

As part of your exam, your doctor should check for high blood pressure and cholesterol since both contribute to heart disease. These conditions are manageable with lifestyle adjustments and appropriate medication.

You may also want to discuss a weight management program with your physician to keep your BMI in an ideal range. Your doctor may suggest a cardiac diet or creative ways to include exercise into your daily life to help get you to a healthy weight.

7. Treat Yourself to Some Chocolate 

A woman eating dark chocolate for the heart health benefits and smiling.
If you feel like you need a lot of restrictions to protect your heart health, hang on. There is also chocolate. 

Dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao can lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke in reasonable amounts. A bite or two a day is plenty to reap the benefits. Overindulging will create the opposite effect. 

Chocolate may dilate the blood vessels to prevent plaque build-up in the arteries. And it has antioxidants to help fight inflammation in the heart and throughout the body. So don’t worry about treating yourself to the right, heart-healthy dessert a few days a week. 

Where Can I Get More Information on Health and Life Insurance? 

Paper cut outs of a family being held safely in someone's hands.
Whether you need health insurance or other coverage, Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you find the right plan. We are a team of independent agents with three locations to serve Greater Minnesota. 

Contact us or stop by our offices in Willmar, Cokato, or New London, MN, to discuss how we can help you today.

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