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5 ways to make your heart live longer

healthy heart_mascot_08_06_12Heart disease is the number one killer in the UK but there are ways you can make sure your heart is as healthy as possible by making a few lifestyle changes.

1) Lose 10lbs
Even losing just five to 10% of your body weight will lower your risk of coronary artery disease. Start screening the amount of calories in your food choices and find out what you think may be harmless, can be loaded with calories, like pure fruit juices for example. Another is to get to know when you are full and stop eating right there. 

2) Stop smoking
Fact: smoking dramatically raises your risk of death from cardiovascular disease. A year after you stop though and your chances of a smoking related disease will be halved. Quit this habit and your heart will thank you. Smoking dramatically raises your risk of death from cardiovascular disease. But just a year after you stop, your chances of a smoking-related heart attack will be reduced by half. After 15 years, your likelihood of dying from a heart attack will be the same as someone who never smoked.

3) Exercise it
Regular exercise cuts your risk of heart disease and stroke, massively. You should aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity per day but you don’t have to do it in one hit because your body benefits just as much by doing it in 10-minute instalments. That means all those annoying tips like parking a couple of streets away from the office and getting off the bus one stop earlier will make a difference. Or try a brisk 10-minute walk in the morning and another in the evening to add up to your daily minimum.

4) Relax and chill out
Stress can cause high blood pressure, hike your cholesterol levels and narrow your arteries – all bad news for your heart. Ironically, when we’re stressed, we’re often quick to sacrifice our down time in an effort to get back on track. It’s important to take time-out for relaxing pursuits, whether that be meditation, yoga, pleasure reading or a walk – whatever helps you relax. Socialising is also a good relaxant, especially if you have fun and laugh together.

5) Avoid bad fats
Trans fats are in a lot of snacky foods because they extend the shelf life of products and enhance the flavour. Often found in biscuits and cakes, trans fatty acids also raise bad cholesterol levels and reduce good cholesterol, upping your risk of heart disease. Learn to avoid trans-fatty temptations, read the nutrition labels and reach for products that are trans-fat free (or even bake your own).

Picture credit: Shutterstock

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