The average heart beats about 100,000 times a day, 35 million times a year, and 2.5 billion times in a lifetime, which is why we need to do all we can to protect it. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. Further, heart health is connected to brain health.
The great news is that the majority of heart disease can be prevented with just a few evidence-based healthy lifestyle behaviors, including:
· Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. If you reduce just 3 meeting times during each work day from 60 minutes to 50, you can engage in a brisk walk, do jumping jacks, or climb stairs to meet this evidence-based recommendation.
· Eat at least 5 fruits and veggies per day.
· Don’t smoke.
· If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start; if you do, limit it to one standard drink a day.
· Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
· Practice regular stress reduction, such as mindfulness, imagery, a daily dose of Vitamin G for gratitude, and/or cognitive-behavioral skills.
· Stand more, sit less, and move more as even 3 hours of sitting daily increases your cardiac risk and drains your energy.
In addition, make an appointment with your healthcare provider for an annual health assessment that includes blood pressure, lipid levels, and hemoglobin A1C for diabetes risk.
Most people don’t change their behaviors until a crisis happens or their emotions are raised. Don’t wait until you have a heart attack or stroke to do something different regarding your healthy lifestyle behaviors. Start today! It takes 30 to 66 days to make or break a new habit. Today can be your January 1 to start reducing your risk for heart disease, so make a firm commitment to improve one healthy lifestyle behavior change today. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch; yard by yard, it’s hard. You can do it!