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Tips for a healthy heart

Posted Sep 26 2008 3:19pm
Go out and play

You are better off being in good shape and fat than thin and in bad shape. There's no pill or diet that can substitute for the health benefits of exercise. Don't starve yourself, but eat well and get moving, doing whatever kind of exercise is fun for you. Go for a bike ride with your spouse, or play basketball with your kids. You'll look and feel better, and your heart will thank you.

Watch your waistline
Despite the advice above, where your fat lands is key. Abdominal fat is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, which dramatically increases the risk of heart disease. So do sit-ups and keep your waist measurement less than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

Go nuts
Rich in healthy fats, nuts are great to snack on and very filling, so you don't feel compelled to eat as much junk.

Relieve the pressure
Emotional stress causes physical stress. Avoid traffic jams, for example, which studies show are associated with heart attacks. Relaxation techniques keep the heart healthy. Yoga and meditation are great, but even simple stress-reduction techniques can work. Try counting to 10 and taking yourself outside the situation, as if just observing it.

Stress can also raise your blood pressure, and studies show that people with the lowest blood pressure have the fewest heart attacks. What we once thought was normal may be way too high for heart health. While we don't know yet how low is low enough, if you have heart-disease risk factors and your blood pressure is 130/80 or higher, see your doctor.
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