Heart-healthy habits to incorporate into your daily fitness routine | Health - Hindustan Times

Heart-healthy habits to incorporate into your daily fitness routine

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
May 01, 2024 07:32 PM IST

Cardiovascular health experts provide clinical insights on implementing heart-healthy habits with fitness and lifestyle modifications to add to your daily drill

Maintaining heart health is crucial for overall health and longevity hence, incorporating fitness activities and adopting healthy habits into daily routines can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Read on as we got experts on board to provide clinical insights on implementing heart-healthy habits, focusing on fitness and lifestyle modifications.

Heart-healthy habits to incorporate into your daily fitness routine (Photo by Marea Wellness on Unsplash)
Heart-healthy habits to incorporate into your daily fitness routine (Photo by Marea Wellness on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Krishan Yadav, Senior Consultant - Interventional Cardiology at Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital in Noida Extension, suggested -

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Physical Activity Recommendations:

  1. Aerobic Exercise: Engage in moderate-intensity aerobic activities for at least 150 minutes per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic activities for 75 minutes per week including brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, or dancing.
  2. Strength Training: Include muscle-strengthening activities such as lifting weights, using resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges on at least two days per week. Strength training helps improve metabolism, maintain muscle mass, and support overall cardiovascular health.
  3. Flexibility and Balance: Incorporate stretching exercises to enhance flexibility and maintain joint health. Activities like Yoga, Pilates, or tai chi can improve balance, flexibility, and overall well-being.

Healthy Lifestyle Practices:

  1. Balanced Diet: Prioritise a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and beneficial fats. Restrict the consumption of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars. Choose nutrient-dense foods that support heart health, such as leafy greens, berries, nuts, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Smoking Cessation: Encourage smoking cessation as it is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of heart disease and improves overall health outcomes.
  3. Stress Management: Incorporate stress-reducing techniques into daily routines, such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation. Encourage hobbies, social interactions, and activities that promote relaxation and mental well-being. Chronic stress contributes to hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors, so effective stress management is essential for heart health.
  4. Adequate Sleep: Try to attain at least 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, practice good sleep hygiene, and create a conducive sleep environment. Inadequate sleep can disrupt cardiovascular function, increase inflammation, and elevate blood pressure, so prioritize sufficient and restorative sleep.

Incorporating fitness activities and adopting healthy habits into daily routines are fundamental for maintaining heart health. Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Bikky Chaurasia, Consultant - Internal Medicine at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai, shared, “The heart is the strongest muscle in our body. It begins beating long before birth, usually a month after conception and continues beating without pause or rest at an average of 100000 times every day over our lifetime. However, the heart is subject to developing disease and complications from a variety of factors many of which can be prevented and treated. One of the easy ways to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve heart health is by incorporating heart-healthy habits into our daily lives.” He recommended:

  1. Our modern lifestyle with sedentary work, reduced physical activity, improper diet with low amounts of vegetables and fruits, use of tobacco and excessive intake of alcohol are some of the factors that affect the heart. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and incorporating fitness and healthy habits into our daily routine can significantly improve heart health and overall well-being.
  2. Physical activity and regular exercise not only help in managing weight but also in improving cardiovascular health. For those with sedentary jobs, staying active throughout the day is crucial. Taking short breaks to walk around and opting for stairs instead of elevators can make a significant difference in your daily physical activity levels.
  3. Regular exercise plays an important role and experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. Strength training exercises should be included at least twice a week to support muscle health and metabolic function.
  4. Healthy eating is an important cornerstone of heart health. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is recommended. You must reduce added sugars and limit the intake of saturated and trans fats found in oils, butter, ghee, and cheese. Restrict your salt intake to less than 1.5 grams per day and refrain from adding extra salt to your food to reduce sodium levels and help in managing blood pressure levels. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated as dehydration can strain the heart and affect its function.
  5. Managing stress is another key factor. Stress can take a toll on heart health, so incorporating stress-reducing activities such as meditation and mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies can help maintain mental and emotional balance, contributing to overall heart health. You must also get adequate sleep. At least 7 to 8 hours every night is recommended for adults. Quality sleep supports heart health by helping to regulate stress hormones.
  6. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, damaging the lining of blood vessels and increasing fatty deposits in the arteries. Nicotine accelerates the heart rate and raises blood pressure. Smoking also increases the risk of the blood to clot and adversely affects fat levels in the blood. It can also cause coronary artery spasm. Quitting smoking is critical for heart health. Limiting alcohol intake is crucial since excessive consumption can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart disease and liver damage.
  7. Maintaining social connections is also beneficial for heart health. Healthy relationships with family and friends can provide emotional support, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being.

Dr Bikky Chaurasia concluded, “By integrating these habits into your daily routine, you can significantly improve your heart health and overall quality of life. In addition, regular health check-ups help in monitoring heart health and any potential risk factors. Consult your physician for adult vaccinations as these help boost your immunity and protect against diseases that can impact heart health. Studies have shown an increase in heart disease in India with the onset of heart disease now at a younger age with even people in their 30s complaining of symptoms of heart disease. This makes it all the more important for us to integrate heart-healthy habits in our daily lives!”

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