I started the process of discovering my fitness when I was 23, but you could be discovering yours at 33, 43, or even 53. Age does not matter, but your health does. Health and fitness include so much more than what you, or others, can see. It is not simply being able to run a mile or having defined abs. They literally go deeper than that to your heart and beyond that to a cellular level.
While I was perusing the latest issue of Family Circle, I came across an article detailing seven things that you can do for your heart right now.* The list is broken down into three categories — 30s, 40s, and 50s — and each of those categories has 7 things to do. I’ve chosen to list the tips and suggestions that I think are universal.**
- Master the Basics
You probably weren’t thinking about your ticker in your 20s—really, who does?—so now’s the decade to start following some cardiac rules. Do: Find a workout you love (at least for 30 minutes a day) to keep your weight in the normal range and your blood pressure in check. Don’t: Smoke, indulge in fast food, or skimp on zzz’s. “The more tired you are, the likelier you are to make poor food choices,” says Sarah Samaan, MD, a cardiologist at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas, and author of Best Practices for a Healthy Heart.
- Spot Secret Stressors
Sure, juggling carpooling duties and credit card bills can tense you up. But don’t forget more subtle sources of pressure that need taming, like preparing your household for a big snowstorm or being ignored by a store employee. Whether you turn to massage or a manager, find positive ways to avoid or get rid of anxiety. Stress sparks the release of the hormones cortisol (which increases blood sugar levels) and adrenaline (which can raise your blood pressure).
- Learn Your Calorie Burn
It’s one thing to count calories coming in—through your meals. It’s another to track calories going out—particularly when you’re not exercising. “If you know how many calories you’re burning overall, you can create a more accurate calorie budget to reach your weight-loss goals,” says Holly Parker, PhD, a lecturer in the psychology department at Harvard University and a certified personal trainer. Visit livestrong.com to estimate your burn rate.
- Don’t Push Through Pain
Christine Wanamaker, a 49-year-old mom of two in Laguna Niguel, California, and an American Heart Association Go Red for Women campaign spokesperson, had ongoing leg pain for four months before the day her life changed three years ago. “I was doing playground duty at my kids’ school and was carrying a lightweight table when I felt intense radiating pain in my chest,” she recalls. “That, along with the pain in my left arm, told me something was wrong.” When she arrived at the ER, she was immediately given four baby aspirin. Ultimately, she had a quadruple bypass. Leg pain can be a warning sign that you’re at high risk for a heart attack. Don’t self-diagnose—ask your doctor.
- Go Fish Twice a Week
Aim to eat fatty fish, like wild salmon, which is packed with omega-3 fatty acids that help decrease inflammation and control cholesterol levels, suggests Taub-Dix. Make a marinade by blending 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1 finely minced garlic clove. Place salmon in a bowl and cover with marinade for 10 minutes. Transfer salmon to a baking sheet and cook (skin side down) for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
- Watch Underlying Conditions
By this decade, it’s even more risky to ignore irregular test results. Viviann Ferea, 62, an education program assistant in San Jose, California, had hypertension for a decade before she got checked and was put on medication. “Although taking meds is no fun, my prescription recently changed to a two-in-one pill,” says Ferea, who cautions against ignoring this silent killer. “I take it with my vitamins and feel like I’m doing something healthy instead of viewing myself as someone with a condition.”
These are things that I think I will start doing now (I say it’s never too early or too late to start), and keep doing as I go through life. I will keep researching other things to do to maintain a healthy heart because it is so important.
Well, that’s enough for me today. You guys enjoy your Thursday!
Until next time,
*This is not a sponsored post.
**I’m not a doctor, registered dietitian, or fitness expert nor do I claim to be. The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences with food, fitness, and life as I go through my own journey to get fit—not to dole out advice and therefore it should not be taken as such. When it comes to your health and fitness, consult a doctor or health professional first. Any action you take because of this blog is at your own risk.