Young at Heart: 3 Secrets for Lifelong Cardiovascular Health

Young at Heart: 3 Secrets for Lifelong Cardiovascular Health
While heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., there’s good news: Treatment advancements continue to improve, and perhaps even more importantly, prevention is trending. That means more and more of us are finally realizing we have power when it comes to our own health and longevity. 

The root of that power? Lifestyle. What we put into our bodies, how active we are, our sleep habits, whether we’re able to combat day-to-day stress—all make a difference on our heart health and general wellness. They might seem obvious, but following these three “secrets” in particular can really add up:

Kick Those Butts 

You probably know cigarette smoking isn’t good for you or your heart. That said, did you know the health benefits are almost immediate after quitting? For example: 

  • Less than 30 minutes after the last cigarette, blood pressure, and the temperature of hands and feet return to normal.
  • After eight hours, blood oxygen level returns to normal.
  • After 48 hours, senses of taste and smell improve.
  • After 72 hours, lung capacity increases and breathing becomes easier.
  • After one week, heart attack risk decreases.
  • Between two weeks and three months, circulation improves, physical activity is less taxing, and energy level rises. 
It’s far from easy to quit smoking, but the rewards of kicking those butts are profound. Discover tips for quitting.  

Work it Out 

Simply put, working out works for your heart health (not to mention your overall health). For optimal benefit, adults should strive for:

  • At least 150 minutes per week (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity; or 75 minutes (1.25 hours) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
  • Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes and ideally spread across the week.
  • Strengthening/resistance and flexibility/balance exercises are also beneficial to incorporate into your routine. 
Remember, some exercise is always better than no exercise, and before you begin any new workout regimen, talk to your health care provider. 

Eat Your Veggies, Fruits & Whole Grains   

Embrace that produce! Try filling half of your plate at every meal with fruits and vegetables. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals and fiber your body truly needs. A few additional tips for healthier eating:

  • Buy and consume more products that are whole grain, and contain unbleached, unenriched grains like whole wheat, brown rice, oats or quinoa.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Enjoy your food, but avoid oversized portions.
  • Lower your sodium (salt) intake.
  • Hail H2O: choose water instead of sugary drinks. 
You only have one heart. That’s why giving your cardiovascular health the love it deserves is well worth it—and well within your reach. 

To your heart and your health,
Dr. William Frauenheim

  • William Frauenheim, MD, MPH

    William Frauenheim, MD, MPH

    Dr. Frauenheim specializes in cardiology and vascular health. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and a Master's in Public Health from Columbia University School of Public Health (New Your, NY). Dr. Frauenheim also completed a Cardiology Fellowship at Rush-Presbyterian-St Luke Medical Center. He see patients at the Spectrum Health Heart & Vascular Center located on the campus of Holland Hospital.

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