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For a Healthy Heart

We don't need to be convinced about the importance of a healthy heart.  Every year approximately one of every four deaths -- 600,000 people -- in the United States are the result of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and a major cause of disability around the world. We are all at risk, therefore it is absolutely vital that we understand that foods we eat and the amount of activity we take part in dramatically affects the overall health of our heart.  You can prevent and may even reverse heart disease! Research has shown that regular training can help fend off the major heart attacks by improving triglyceride counts, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and reducing body fat. Strength training, aerobic exercise, and flexibility training work together to build a healthy, strong heart. Strength training. Researchers from Harvard studied 44,000 men and found that those who lifted weights for 30 minutes or more a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 23 per cent. Strength training conditions your heart to work better when you have to lift and carry heavy objects, so your blood pressure and heart rate are lower during everyday chores. Aerobic exercise. Aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise is  an activity that increases breath rates and spurs deep breathing. It includes walking, running, swimming, and dancing. Aerobic machines in gyms include rowing machines, treadmills, stepper and elliptical trainers.  Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle by improving the body's ability to extract oxygen from the blood for the body's use while improving metabolism of fats and carbohydrates to energy. Flexibility training. Stretching helps relax and lengthen your muscles, encourages improved blood flow, and helps to keep you supple so you can move more easily. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology, found that while regular exercisers generally have been found to have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, participants who could not reach to or beyond their toes in the sit-and-stretch test were more likely than their flexible peers to have higher systolic blood pressure!  Another recent study found that middle-age and older adults who undertook a stretching exercise regimen significantly improved the flexibility of their carotid artery, which carries oxygen-rich blood to the brain! Small changes to your diet is another important and effective way to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduce fat consumption, especially saturated and trans-fats.
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables, wholegrain food and soluble fiber.
  • Reduce salt to maintain lower blood pressure.
  • Grill, bake or steam food rather than frying.
  • Limit intake of trans-fats from processed food.
  • Eat at least two portions of omega-3 rich fish, such as salmon, each week.
If you are overweight, you may increase the risk of heart disease as much as  eighty percent! Eat a healthy diet and , take regular exercise, and you'll live healthy, strong and long!

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