February is National Heart Month and a great time to reflect on how well we are looking after one of the most important organs in our body. Caring for your heart involves caring for your whole self. Here are our tips:
Watch your weight
Being overweight can increase your risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetes which are all risk factors for heart complications. By maintaining a healthy weight now you can prevent problems developing in future.
There are two secrets to maintaining a healthy weight:
- Eat well
- Stay active
There’s no miracle solution, just a healthy balanced diet that is low in salt and processed sugars. Eat lots of leafy green vegetables, cook fresh when you can, watch portion sizes and avoid processed foods.
For advice on maintaining a healthy weight visit the British Heart Foundation website.
Find your fitness
Staying fit and active works wonders for your all-around health and wellbeing. It improves your blood pressure, helps to maintain a healthy weight and boosts your mental health too.
You don’t need to be a triathlete! It is recommended that you take 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (or 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week). This can be brisk walking, jogging, swimming, an exercise class or any other way of exercising that you enjoy! Incorporate more movement into your day by taking the stairs instead of lifts, parking a bit further from your office or taking a walk at lunchtime.
You can monitor your progress and set goals with an activity tracker (we have a great range to choose from on our website).
Remember to keep your exercise varied and make it enjoyable.
Be a quitter
Smoking leads to numerous health complications and puts a massive strain on your heart. Smokers are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack than non-smokers, but chances of this happening can be halved after just 12 months of quitting. If you need support to help you stop smoking, consult your GP or visit NHS Quit Smoking for advice.
In 2015, it was reported that 13.5 million adults in England were living with high blood pressure, but we know also that about half of those with high blood pressure either haven’t been diagnosed or aren’t on treatment. High blood pressure carries no definitively recognisable symptoms so the best way to detect it is by having it checked and monitored regularly.
High blood pressure can lead to a heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease. It’s largely preventable and can be monitored easily at home with a blood pressure monitor.
We all know our weight and height, why not our blood pressure?