When it comes to your health—and, in particular, your heart disease risks—you can’t control some factors. However, while you may not be able to change your family history or genetic predisposition, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by making changes to your lifestyle.
Luckily, making those changes to the factors you can control can also help lower your overall risk and make those uncontrollable factors less of a threat. So what are you waiting for? Here are six heart disease risk factors you can control and start tackling today.
Of course, the most obvious change you can make to lower your risk of heart disease is to your diet. Minimizing your intake of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium makes your diet heart-healthier—and it may even help you lose a little weight, which can also decrease your risk. Opt for lean meats and fish over red meat and increase your fiber intake by eating more fruits and vegetables.
There are dozens and dozens of reasons to quit smoking, but reducing your risk of heart disease is easily at the top of the list. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that smoking causes one in three deaths from cardiovascular disease. Get the help you need to quit smoking as soon as possible.
Even just taking two 15-minute brisk walks per day can make a significant difference in your heart health. If you’re new to exercise, start slow and find a safe activity that raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes each day. Talk to your doctor about the best options for your current physical fitness.
Unfortunately, even regular exercise isn’t enough to combat the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Though the exact impact or reasons aren’t clear, experts say that spending too much time sitting down contributes negatively to your heart disease risk. By making a conscious effort to move more throughout the day—in addition to those 30 minutes of heart-pumping activity—you can improve your heart health.
Your mental health can have a big impact on your physical health. Prolonged periods of emotional health can also put too much stress on your heart, so taking steps to reduce your stress is a great way to take control of your own risk factors. Different methods of stress relief work for different people, but don’t be afraid to find what works for you. Try yoga, meditation, talking to a friend or taking a mini vacation.
Maintaining regular visits with your doctor is the best way to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your heart disease risk factors low. Talk to your doctor about your lifestyle habits and have routine testing done to check up on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. By controlling these six habits, you can reduce your heart disease risk as much as possible—which will make those risk factors you can’t control as minimized as possible.
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