Small Steps to Preventing Heart Disease

If you're looking to prevent the onset of heart disease, you might think that you need to overhaul your entire routine, drastically changing up your diet and schedule to live a healthier life. If you're up to taking these large steps, great! But if you're a little less receptive to changes to your lifestyle - and many people resist such changes - you might be happy to learn that little steps here and there can add up to better heart health.

Include Healthier Foods

Contrary to what you might think, you don't need to exchange your normal meals for bushels of celery to help your heart out. What you can do, though, is add some fruits and vegetables to the meals you're already eating. Before each meal, try to eat a serving of a fruit or vegetable, whether it's an apple or some broccoli. Doing so will increase your intake of fiber and help you feel fuller, which may assist you in eating less of your typical fare than you might otherwise consume. If you're shooting for the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies a day, you can also swap out your current snacks for whatever fruit is currently in season, and it should be relatively easy to reach your goal.

Get Some Exercise

If putting in hours a week running on a treadmill or pedaling a bike just isn't your thing, there's no need to worry. If you're living a relatively sedentary lifestyle, adding as little as an hour or two of exercise a week to your routine can dramatically improve your heart health, cutting your chances for heart disease in half. So, can you spare ten or twenty minutes a day to get some moderately strenuous exercise? Keep in mind that you don't even have to head to the gym or set aside time to work out to hit this goal - you can get your heart pumping by taking the stairs at work, parking farther from the store when you go shopping, mowing the lawn, or shooting some hoops with your friends. Not only are everyday activities easier to work into your schedule, but they're easier to stick with over the long run.

Pencil in Time for Sleep

With all of the responsibilities you're balancing between work and home, it's no surprise that you might not be getting enough sleep. Sure, you've heard the old eight-hours-a-night mantra since you were a kid, but you've been functioning off five or six hours for years, so why stop now? Your heart might beg to differ because it needs that sleep to perform at its best. Plus, sleeping for the proper amount of time can boost your cognitive abilities, quicken your reaction time, and generally keep you in a better mood. Take a break from being constantly sleep-deprived by scheduling eight hours of restorative shuteye for yourself for the next week or two, and see how you feel. Once you witness the benefits, you might find it easier to make the heart-healthy decision than you may have thought.

Peg Smith is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Ms. Smith is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to health.
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