February is American Heart Month, which means there’s no time like the present to take control of your cardiovascular health. Heart health is important at any age, but we at Brandermill Woods want to remind seniors that it’s especially important to take good care of your ticker.
We recognize the importance of cardiovascular health, so here are 10 steps you can take today to improve your cardiovascular fitness (and your overall health):
1. Quit smoking. If you or your spouse smokes, quitting is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Full stop.
2. Eat a healthy diet. Try to limit your salts, fats and sweets, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and try to get a weekly dose of omega-3 from salmon, tuna or another seafood dinner.
3. Substitute spices for salts. It’s easy to reach for the old sodium chloride shaker when you want to season your meal, but salt is terrible for your health – especially since sodium is so widely used as a preservative. Try seasoning your meals with herbs and spices instead.
4. Get off the couch. They don’t call them “couch linguini” or “couch asparagus.” No, “couch potato” is an apt phrase. No one wants to be a dense, lumpy mass, but if you spend all day sitting around, you’re not doing your heart any favors.
5. Get some aerobic exercise. Performing aerobic exercise for 30 minutes several times a week will have exponential payoffs for your health. Of course, seniors should take care not to injure themselves. Vigorous walking counts!
6. Test your resting heart rate. Check your pulse at different times throughout the week to discover your average resting heart rate (RHR). Although a RHR of 60-100 beats per minute is normal, rates above 80 can be a sign that the heart is out of shape.
7. Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure (defined as 140/90 or above) is a sign of cardiovascular disease. Talk with your doctor about ways to keep your blood pressure in check.
8. Curb the bad cholesterol. There’s a great deal of literature about cholesterol – good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, proteins, lipids. Make sure you get a routine physical that includes bloodwork so that your doctor can monitor your numbers and advise you on your heart health.
9. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is possibly the biggest cause of heart disease, as it is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and low exercise. This year, commit to losing a few pounds. You’ll feel better, and your heart will thank you.
10. Get a routine physical. Your doctor will monitor your vital signs and advise you if you need to modify your diet, exercise or consider medication to manage your health. Catching cardiovascular issues early is the absolute best way to stay health.