A strong, healthy heart is vital for longevity. Every February is declared National Heart Month as a way to promote awareness about keeping your heart strong and encouraging healthy eating and living habits.
Cardiovascular disease effects the heart itself and/or the blood vessel system. According to the Center for Disease Control, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke; and cardiovascular disease is very expensive—together heart disease or stroke hospitalizations in 2010 cost the nation more than $444 billion in health care expenses and lost productivity.
Here small lifestyle changes that you can make to protect yourself against heart disease.
Take a 20-minute walk. Just 2.5 hours of exercise a week (that’s a little more than 20 minutes a day) could reduce heart attacks by one-third.
Start your day with a stretch. Stretching for 10 to 15 minutes a day may keep arteries pliable; they may be effected by the elasticity of the muscles and tissue that surround them.
Reduce your stress levels. Unmanaged stress can cause high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms and damage your arteries.
Quit smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor in heart disease and can damage the function of your heart and the structure and function of your blood vessels.
Maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, decreasing your chances of developing heart problems or having a stroke.