Three Steps to a Healthy Heart
The month of June is “Men’s Health Month,” and the time provides an opportunity to raise awareness for both men and women about health, wellness, and prevention. Indeed, health is a topic that is dear to my own heart and raising awareness about heart disease and promoting heart health is one of my special missions.
The heart is the indispensable pump. Each day it beats over 100,000 times pumping over 2,000 gallons of life-giving blood throughout your body. Heart health is important for total health and fitness, and injury or damage to your heart, its valves or blood vessels leads to heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, surpasses cancer, accidents, homicide, and diabetes mellitus as the leading cause of death for men in the United States. The total estimated direct cost of cardiovascular disease and stroke exceeds $310 billion annually. Some risk factors for developing heart disease such as age and heredity cannot be controlled. However, the following 6 major risk factors are controllable:
- Lack of exercise
- Smoking and tobacco use
- High blood cholesterol
- Being overweight and obese
- Diabetes mellitus
- High blood pressure
Your chances of developing heart disease are higher the more risk factors you have. The positive news is empowered with good information you can take control of your health, prevent heart disease, and live healthy. Remembering the “Three E’s” can help. These 3 simple steps reduce the risk factors of heart disease:
- Eat healthy
- Empower yourself with knowledge about your risk factors
Exercise is essential for heart health. Talk with a health care professional before you begin any exercise program, and simply walking more each day is a good start. Regular daily exercise of 20-30 minutes reduces blood pressure, and can lower cholesterol, burn body fat, relieve depression, and increase confidence and self esteem.
Eat Healthy. A balanced diet low in salt, fats, and cholesterol is the recipe for heart health. Moderation is key to healthy eating. Too much salt, fat, and cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease. Increased intake of fiber, and water rich fruits and vegetables keep your weight under control and increases your energy.
Empower yourself. Assessing and controlling your risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol level empower you to make healthy lifestyle choices. Take action and become your own healthcare advocate. Ask informed questions of your doctors and healthcare providers and be a partner in achieving total heart health. Exercise, a healthy diet, and empowering yourself with knowledge are three simple steps to heart health.
I invite you to follow my progress in the months ahead as I follow the three steps above and prepare for my third running of the Marine Corps Marathon in October!