You must at the onset always know and remember, that you’re never too young—or too old—to take care of your heart. Smarter choices will pay off in the future by preventing you from heart disease (and all sorts of cardiovascular diseases). Inadequate exercise, poor diet and other unhealthy habits including smoking and excessive drinking can take their toll over the course of time. Just like these good/bad habits can be formed or changed at any stage of life, anyone at any age must mould their habits to keep their heart healthy during each decade of their lives. Here’s how:
All Age Groups
Irrespective of the age, everyone benefits from a healthy and balanced diet and adequate physical activity.
A Healthy and Balanced Diet:
1. Pick foods low in saturated and trans fat and sodium.
2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fibre-rich grains, fish, nuts, legumes and seeds.
3. Select low fat dairy products.
4. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar and red meat.
Adequate Physical Activity:
1. Your final aim should be to work up to about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week or about 75 minutes of HIIT every week.
2. You can also make a combination of both every week.
3. On 2 or more days a week delve into muscle-strengthening exercises for major muscle groups including hips, legs, back, chest and arms.
In Your 20s
The sooner you are conscious about your heart health, the better. The things you do and do not do at this stage of life are a tell-sign of how well and how log are you going to live. “There’s no one I know who said: ‘I felt better being sedentary. I felt better eating a terrible diet,’” said Richard Stein, M.D., cardiologist and professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine. “All these things actually make you feel better while they help you.”
1. Regular Health Examination:
Start your health screenings now. Conversations about diet, lifestyle and checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, blood sugar etc. will help you knowing your numbers, so that it is easier to spot an anomaly in the future.
2. Physical Activity:
In your 20s it is easy to stay active. If your accustomed to physical activity, maintain it, it not build a habit now. Also, keep your workout mixed and interesting – this will keep you motivated and have an holistic impact on your health.
3. Quit smoking:
Irrespective if you started smoking in your teens or in your early 20s, it’s time to quit! Exposure to second hand smoking poses a serious health hazard too. According to a U.S. Surgeon General report, nonsmokers are out 30% more likely to develop heart disease to lung caner from second hand smoking exposure.
In Your 30s
Your thirties are a crucial time for your heart, as juggling between family and career leaves many adults with no time to care about their heart. Here is a way out:
1. Healthy heart, a family affair:
Create healthy habits in your kids from the start and you shall benefit too. Be more on the move, less on the couch. Be in parks, on foot or a bike. Perhaps even plant a kitchen garden in your backyard and cook together.
2. Family History:
Go through your family tree to learn about heart health. A relative with a heart diseases increase your risk, especially if the relative is a sibling or a parent. Control your risk factors by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, not smoking and eat right.
Long-term stress can increase the heart rate and blood pressure that may eventually damage the artery walls. Stress management techniques will not only benefit your body but also the quality of your life.
In Your 40s
Don’t fret if heart hasn’t been your priority. Understanding why and then switch to healthier lifestyle choices, one at a time; and you could have a stronger heart.
1. Weight Management
Metabolism slows down in your forties, but weight gain can be avoided by following a healthy diet and getting adequate exercise. In fact, find motivation and a workout buddy, it’ll help.
2. Blood Sugar Levels
In addition to the various checkups and screenings, start getting a fasting blood glucose test by the time your hit 45. This can serve as the base for future test which you should get every there year. If you’re overweight or diabetic, get these tests faster.
If your partner complains about your snoring, do not brush them off. One in five adults is known to have mild sleep apnea. If not treated, it can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke.
In Your 50s+
Unlike the signs of ageing like wrinkles and grey hair, you never know what impact does ageing have on your heart. So starting 50s, you need to take extra steps.
1. Healthy Diet
Refresh your eating habits by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, fibre-rich grains, fish (preferably twice a week), nuts, legumes and seeds.
2. Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Not everyone experiences sudden numbness or a severe chest pain. In fact heart attack symptoms in women are different then in men. Now is the time to get savvy about the symptoms.
3. Treatment Plan
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or any other such conditions that increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke, make sure you follow your prescribes treatment plan to a tee.
4. Ankle-Brachial Index Test
You can wait for this test until you’re in your sixties. But in your sixties, it’s a good ideas to get an ankle-brachial index – which helps assess the pulses in the feet. This test helps diagnose Periphery Artery Disease (PAD), in which plaque build up in the leg arteries.
You may also want to read: 9 Heart-Related Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore