February is all about hearts. . . but not just the cupid and chocolate kind of hearts. It’s also heart awareness month as the Heart and Stroke Foundation promote heart health and disease prevention.
Did you know that every seven minutes someone in Canada dies from heart disease or stroke? And 32% of all deaths are attributed to heart disease or stroke? With heart disease this rampant, it is bound to affect you personally through someone that you know.
Here are the Top 10 healthy living choices you can make to help prevent heart disease:
1. If you smoke, become smoke-free.
2. Be aware of your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels and keep them in the healthy range.
3. Engage in regular physical activity for a minimum of 150 minutes weekly– choose activities you find fun so you’ll stick with them. Bouts of 10 minutes of exercise at a time count toward your 150 weekly minutes.
How Essential is Exercise?
Research conducted by Dr. Poulin with women over 65 demonstrated that active women have 10% lower blood pressure and 10% higher brain function on cognitive tests. The active women were engaged in aerobic activity, such as walking, for at least 150 minutes per week.
4. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss of 5-10% of your current weight can have significant health benefits.
5. Consume at least five servings of vegetables and fruits per day by including vegetables with every meal and fruit for dessert. Boomers are notorious for failing to eat enough fruit and veggies; 80% of all boomers do not eat the recommended five veggies daily.
6. Develop and maintain personal relationships to help reduce any stress that can lead to unhealthy habits such as overeating and lack of physical activity.
7. Choose lean meat, fish, poultry and meat alternatives such as beans along with low-fat milk.
8. Include a small amount of soft non-hydrogenated margarine, vegetable oils and nuts each day.
9. Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day.
10. Choose foods that are lower in sodium and limit the amount of salt you add in cooking or at the table. Begin using fresh herbs or spices to flavour your food, rather than depending on salt.
Starting and sticking to new habits can be difficult - especially when done alone. However, you don't have to do it alone! We are fabulous caregivers who will encourage and guide you - or your elderly loved one – in staying on track. Your heart health is important, it’s never too late to introduce new living choices, start today!