Jess Redden joins us again, this time to share her tips for a healthy heart this Valentine’s Day.
To coincide with Valentines day and to highlight the importance of such an important topic my second blog focuses on ‘heart health’. Why is heart health so important? Heart disease can encompass a variety of different types of conditions, but all of them relate to the heart in some way. One of the most common types of heart disease known as ‘coronary heart disease’ can cause the heart to become less effective due to a build up of plaque in our blood vessels. This plaque results from a build up of cholesterol, calcium or fat. Heart disease can begin to take effect even before you notice symptoms.
To put the importance of heart disease into perspective I wanted to mention two important statistics: roughly 10,000 people in Ireland die of heart disease each year and cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in Ireland! I was quite shocked at these statistics. There are so many blogs out there which focus on skincare, beauty and fashion which I personally love myself but there are very few that address the importance of heart disease and my main drive home message from this blog post is that this can be a totally preventive condition – lets change these statistics!
Try to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. The DASH (Dietary approach to stop hypertension) diet is an example of an eating plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two things that can lower your risk of heart disease. There are many sample meal plans online that you can follow. Here is a link to typical week of the DASH diet and what it looks like.
Omega 3s are cardio protective and help prevent clots from forming in our arteries. You should aim to eat fish 2-3 times per week, if you are struggling to do this there are some great supplements you can take. I personally take the Eskimo 3-6-9, which contributes to the normal function of the heart and plays a role in maintaining good brain health. It also contains Co-Q-10 which supports energy production and acts as an antioxidant to support a healthy brain too!
The heart is a muscle, it gets healthier and stronger the more active a lifestyle you lead. It’s never too late to start your exercise regimen. Even taking a brisk 30 minute walk a day can make a huge difference. If your work is within walking distance why not swap the car this week and aim to walk, or if you get the luas or bus try and get off a stop or two earlier to increase your steps! Once you get going you’ll soon find it pays off. People who don’t exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease than people who are active. Regular exercise can help you to burn calories, lower your blood pressure, boost your HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol! Ready to get started? Here is an example of how you can structure your exercise plan:
- Aerobic exercise (Cardio) : Running, biking and jogging are some examples of cardio. You should be able to talk to someone whilst doing it, if not you may be pushing yourself too hard! If you have any joint problems opt for a low impact activity like walking or swimming.
- Stretching: You can increase your flexibility by doing some stretching a couple of times per week. Always stretch before and after you exercise and why not pick up a new hobby like yoga or pilates this year?
- Strength training: You can use resistance bands, weights or your own body weight for this. Aim to do strength training 2-3 times per week. Give a day between sessions for your muscles to recover!
Now to discuss tips for matters pertaining to our symbolic heart!! The need to be loved could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs. A significant determinant of our happiness is whether or not we feel loved and cared for. Being in a trusting and loving relationship some argue is the main objective in life but all relationships have their ups and downs if it were always rainbows and sunshine we would never fully appreciate all the good times. In life so far I’ve learnt three things to maintain a healthy relationship and to nurture your heart in the process
1. Never Take Each Other For Granted
Be aware of all the lovely things your partner does for you and express gratitude whenever possible. It might be as simple as thanking them for doing the dishes or making their cup of tea or coffee just the way they like it! They will feel appreciated and in return will show you kindness. One smile is often started by another smile.
2. Love Yourself
Sometimes in our relationships we question ourselves especially in the era of social media where girls have unimaginably small waists , perfect lips, hair and bodies … the filtered versions of course!! But looking at these images day in and day out can negatively impact our own self image and worth. So the next time you’re wondering how your partner lives with your snoring or loves you without your make up on write out or verbally say five things that you like about yourself. It may sound silly but how can you expect others to love you when you don’t love yourself ? Maybe you’re awesome at picking out good movie choices or you can make the perfect espresso martini – whatever it is I’m sure your partner loves you for it so stop questioning and start accepting what a great catch you are!!
3. Make Time For Each Other
Dedicate a night a week where you switch your phones to flight mode and just enjoy being in each other’s company try and make one kind gesture a week for your partner by cooking their favourite meal, buying them a new book or printing your favourite photo and putting it in a frame for them. I love making photo albums of holidays or good times you’ve had together.
So there you have it; my top tips for looking after your heart in more ways than one, this Valentine’s Day.
What do you think of Jess Redden’s tips for a healthy heart? Have you any tips to add? Let us know in the comments below.