Today is World Heart Day.
Which got me thinking about healthy living and how to have a healthy heart. I don’t know about you, but I can go through fits and starts on the healthy living front, and it takes focus to keep on track.
But developing or maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something I believe strongly in, whatever our age. But especially as we age.
Because living a healthy lifestyle can have repercussions on the way we feel, look, act and think about life – as well as having benefits for a healthy heart.
I know for a fact that during the times I’ve adopted ‘slob-like’ tendencies and let myself eat whatever I fancy as well as spending leisure time lying around on the bed, declining all exercise, reading easy novels and eating chocolates (for example!) that I have felt distinctly worse for wear and not, as I hoped instead, luxuriously indulged!
10 ways to have a healthy heart
I’m interested in keeping as healthy as possible, and looking after the health of my heart too (as far as I know how). I read lots of articles about how to live a healthy lifestyle, and these are some of the things which seem to crop up frequently in relation to heart health.
- Quit smoking.
- Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week.
- Manage your weight.
- Find out if you have a healthy weight with a BMI calculator.
- Eat at least 30g of fibre a day – I like to have a vegetable and fruit smoothie each day and use a Nutri-Bullet for this.
- Cut down on saturated fat and always choose lean cuts of meat and lower fat dairy products.
- Have at least 5 portions of veg and fruit a day.
- Cut down on salt – I’m always trying harder with this as I tend to reach for the salt before thinking. But also remember hidden salt in food. Read food labels to educate yourself on those products which have large salt content, and check also how many calories, fat and sugar the product contains. You might like to read more about the Health Star Rating System.
- Eat more fish. I try to eat fish at least twice a week (bring on the salmon), and might include tuna and mackerel as lunchtime choices too.
- Drink less alcohol.
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For more information about how to look after your heart check out Top 10 Healthy Heart Tips a post by NHS choices from where I’ve gleaned some of the advice for this post.
The elephant in the room
As we get older we face a growing need to exercise, and exercise is, I’m told, one of the important factors in maintaining good heart health. But if you’re anything like me the passing years also make me less inclined to get physical.
I used to have boundless amounts of energy and a desire to zip about like a thoroughbred. Now I’m more of an old nag. And I mean in relation to the equine variety, not the verbal nagging.
Gardening – ooh, ouch, a few hours and my joints and limbs are an acheing.
Housework – no thank you!
Work up a sweat and go for a jog – oh do I really have to?
Swim some lengths – nah, does my neck in – my chiro told me so.
But I do exercise. Regularly. It’s just that it takes time and commitment, and if it’s not habitual and a part of my day, then it’s hard to get to it. Most of all I enjoy bicycling with Dave and going on long walks. I do some yoga and callanetics exercise routines at home too.
What are we at risk of losing as we get older?
- Bone Density
- Muscle Mass
… and what can we probably expect an increase in?
- Body fat
- Joint injuries
What does exercise do?
- Helps increase balance and flexibility
- Increase mobility and lower blood pressure
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce the chance of developing diseases and disabilities
- Have a positive effect on heart and brain health
- Can help treat chronic health conditions like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
- How to get more exercise without thinking about it
- Walk briskly – wherever you are – shopping, airports, about town.
- Keep more active daily by doing ‘normal’ activities like housework and gardening more frequently.
- Always take the stairs – wherever you are.
For more advice you might like to check out The Necessity of Exercise: Physical Activity and Aging from where I learned some of the tips above.
Have a look at the infographic below created by the University of Southern California
I believe that maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle is crucial for sustaining health and happiness as we get older. It can help us stay supple, maintain a good quality of life, and apparently we are likely to live longer too.
Disclaimer – This post is for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice Consult your doctor for all your personal health advice, particularly when it comes to your heart, and always before starting any new exercise or eating regime. Lifestyle Fifty Website is an affiliate of other sites offering products which might be useful for readers, as well as being a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you purchase a product from one of these links it will not cost you any more, but Lifestyle Fifty may earn a small commission.
Obesity and associated illnesses (such as heart disease) as a result, is the number one killer in Australia. As I have heart disease in my family I like to really keep a check on my weight and these days I watch everything I eat. Luckily I have always exercised (because I love it) so I walk, participate in Yoga or Pilates at least six days a week. It does get harder as you get older, but you’ve just got to persevere and keep focused on your health. Great tips Jo.
Thanks Kathy, and thanks too for your sound advice and back up tips. I’m like you and have to watch my weight and how much I exercise – things creep up on us over the years, bad habits develop – it takes focus to keep on track.