Do you recall the days, when you were a kid, and everything which were supposedly ‘bad’ for you attracted you the most? And, do you remember the innumerable times your parents would keep telling you not to do something because it wasn’t ‘good’ for you, even though you knew it yourself, and yet you wanted to do it?
Come to think of it, we haven’t changed much, have we? Even today, we are still attracted to things which are harmful for our health, our mind and body. We still pay little or no heed to warnings and admonishment and we STILL require repeated reminders! And, that brings us to this post.
We have often mentioned, here and here, how various activities and lifestyle habits are good for us and for our hearts. However, given that another reminder is in order, we decided to bring to you this article, where we enumerate all the healthy habits you should follow for a healthy and active heart and hopefully, this will help you review your lifestyle and cut out the ‘bad’ from your life and keep the ‘good’.
OUR HEART, A MACHINE:
While we have been told over and over that we should live a healthy life for a healthy heart, it seems to us, that this might be a very vague way of trying to help you. Can a factory worker be expected to repair and maintain a piece of machinery, without knowing anything about it or even how it works? No, he can’t! Similarly, we cannot be expected to keep our heart healthy without knowing anything about it and how it functions – after all, it is nothing short of a powerful machine and we are its keeper.
Anatomy of a heart: The human heart is located under the rib cage between the right and left lungs, right in the center of our chest. The human heart is about the size of a fist and can weigh 280 to 340 grams in men and 230 to 280 grams in women. Our hearts contain four chambers – right atrium, left atrium, right ventricle, and left ventricle. The atria are smaller and less muscular, compared to the ventricles and their function is to receive blood, so they are connected to veins which carry blood into the heart. The ventricles are larger and stronger and they pump out the blood to arteries, which carry the blood to different parts of the body.
Facts about the heart:
- Your heart beats about 100,000 times in a day which is an average of 72 times a minute.
- Your heart pumps about 1 million barrels of blood during our lifetime – enough to fill more than 3 tankers.
- The heart beat becomes evident at 8-10 weeks of age in an embryo and does not stop until death.
- The volume of blood pumped by the heart can vary over a wide range, from five to 30 liters per minute.
LET’S KEEP OUR HEART STRONG:
So, now that you know your heart better and realize the tremendous amount of work this little organ has to perform every day, wouldn’t you agree, that our heart needs all the love and nurturing it could get and should be given the pampering it deserves? If you agree, then read on to know the best ways you can show love to your heart.
We know that eating healthy, staying fit etc. etc. is all good for our health. What is difficult, is not remembering these points, but putting into action these points. We need to start making the practice of maintaining a healthy heart a part of our daily routine, and this is how you can do it:
We all know this but how do we do it?
-Start by stocking your pantry/kitchen with healthy food such as unsalted nuts. Nuts are good fats and few nuts a day will keep you healthy.
-Replace butter and ghee with olive oil, canola oil and sesame oil.
-Skip meat and go for fishes such as salmon, mackerel, and trout.
-Break away from packaged and processed food.
-Reduce the intake of salt.
-Substitute wheat bread with whole grain bread and white bread with brown bread.
– Replace sodas with fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
For a detailed chart on heart-healthy diets, don’t forget to check our WEBSITE!
Easier said than done, right? Wrong! It’s very easy to incorporate physical activity in your daily routine.
– Park your car further away from your office and walk the distance.
-Take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators.
-Take a break, walk around your office or up & down the stairs every hour or so.
– Cycle instead of driving when going to the local stores for an errand.
-Stand or walk around when taking phone calls.
– Skip every day for few minutes.
-Enroll for yoga or tai chi classes
A good six to eight hours of sleep is required every day to stay healthy. To do so,
– Reduce the intake of caffeine
-Go for a walk or brisk stroll before bed
-Make sure the bedroom is dark
-Read a book or listen to some soothing music before sleeping
Working your diet and a bit of exercise will automatically help you manage your weight. However, for people who are overweight or even obese, stricter measures need to be taken. Exercising daily for an hour is a must as is moderating the amount of your food intake. Obesity is one of the major causes of heart diseases among youngsters.
Manage protracted illnesses:
Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol increases the chance of heart diseases and attacks. Regulars checkups should be done and medications taken on time to reduce the impact of these illnesses on your heart.
Quit bad habits:
Smoking and excessive drinking causes a lot of damage to our heart, weakening it to the point where it is unable to carry out its functions. Giving up alcohol and smoking may not be easy, but it sure isn’t impossible. You may need the help of a professional as well, but at the end of the day, it will all be worth your while.
Get regular heart screening done, as well. Heart screening will check your risk assessment, blood pressure, BMI (body mass index), cholesterol levels and other heart disease pointers. From the age of 40 years, you should get a screening done annually. However, should there be any risk factors involved, such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol etc., then get a screening done every year once you hit 30.
HEART DISEASE FREE LIFE:
Try not to worry about heart diseases or get caught up in the tension of trying to maintain a healthy schedule for you and your family. Nothing happens overnight. It will take time and a certain measure of practice, before you are able to incorporate all of these habits seamlessly into your daily routine. Knowledge is important too. By reading this article, you have taken the first step towards living a healthier life. Now start practicing. And remember, your cardiologist is not there for you, only after you get a heart disease; he is there to help you prevent them as well.
“Heart disease, let’s defeat. Keep a healthy heart beat.”