|Keeping our hearts healthy is important, but how do we do it? Fortunately the answers to this are very clear.
Being overweight, particularly if you carry the weight around your waist, puts unnecessary strain on the heart. To find out if you have a problem you need to know your height to weight ratio (WHR). To work this out measure round your waist in centimetres and divide it by your hip circumference. The measurements need to be in centimetres, so if your measuring tape is in inches, multiply each measurement by 2.5 before dividing one by the other. If the figure you end up with is greater than 0.9 for men and 0.8 for women then your fat distribution is likely to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Research has shown that many overweight people with angina, raised blood cholesterol and high blood pressure found their condition improved greatly, even after losing only some of their excess weight. Many of those who kept their weight off were able to reduce their medication or even stop it entirely.
Exercise is important for your heart too. If you take regular exercise, it will speed up your basal metabolic rate. This means that you will burn more calories, not only when you are exercising but for some time afterwards as well. People often imagine that they have to exercise hard to have an effect, but itís enough just to take exercise that leaves you warm and breathing heavily, but still able to hold a conversation.
Did you know that each day most of us take between 3,000-4,000 steps? And that's just not enough. Experts say that we should aim to take 10,000 steps to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Increasing to 10,000 steps a day will burn between 2,000 and 3,500 extra calories per week, which will result in achieving a vastly better health profile and longer lifespan. There are lots of ways you can increase the number of steps you take: get up to change the TV rather than using the remote; park further from the supermarket; take a walk around the local park or your garden/yard; walk rather than take the car on short journeys. Using a pedometer will help motivate you to clock up those extra steps.
Giving up smoking is likely to have a dramatic effect on your heart. Carbon monoxide produced when you smoke cigarettes attaches to red blood cells, so that in smokers up to half the blood can be carrying carbon monoxide rather than oxygen. No wonder many smokers are breathless! If you need help giving up smoking, try one of the books or CDís by Allen Carr. He has helped thousands of people to give up.
And, if you donít already, start flossing your teeth! This may seem bizarre in relation to the heart, but it has been shown that there is a link between gum disease and heart disease. The exact mechanism isnít understood fully yet, but flossing your teeth and having regular dental checks is important for a healthy heart.
Finally, give and receive love. The scientific evidence isnít there (yet) for how important this is for our hearts, but it has been established that people who have loving relationships also tend to have long and happy lives.
About the author:
Jane Thurnell-Read is an author and researcher on health, allergies and stress. Her web site http://www.healthandgoodness.comis full of tips and information to help you be happier and healthier.
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