When you make healthy choices, you’re giving yourself the opportunity for a longer and healthier life. Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to your heart and it’s never too early to learn about the importance of heart health. Let’s break down some basics and actions you can take at any age.
Teens: According to the CDC, tobacco product use primarily starts in adolescence. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 adults started smoking before the age of 18. Reasons why teens and young adults start smoking include:
- Their parents smoke
- They’re under peer pressure
- They want to show their independence
- Marketing companies use clever tactics to appeal to younger people
Try this: If you have young children, teach them the dangers of smoking and the long-term health effects. Let them know that smoking as little as 100 cigarettes could make them addicted and quitting can be tough. If you smoke, know that quitting greatly increases your cardiovascular health and sets a good example for young people.
20s: This is when most people are in their physical prime! Now is the time to discover the benefits—for your body and mind—of a regular exercise routine. Moving your body every day and doing strength training can establish a healthy routine to take with you as you age.
Try this: Try different forms of exercise to find those that you like. Your body will appreciate aerobic and strength training workouts. Both are wonderful for you heart health. Make sure to train smart, take rest days, and always strive to achieve your fitness goals. Your future self will thank you.
30s: During middle age, we start to see changes in our physical, emotional and mental health and we see the short- and long-term effects of our decisions. Setting routines, boundaries and committing to healthy choices now sets you up for success later in life.
Try this: Attend annual exams and screenings with your primary care provider. Together you can use your family history, blood pressure, cholesterol counts, and other vital factors to set up a baseline of your current health. Knowledge is power!
40s: Generally, people in their 40s are well into their careers and maybe even raising a family. Self-care and their personal health may fall to the wayside. Know that stress and burnout can contribute negatively to your health both in the short and long-term.
Try this: Make sure to get quality sleep every night. This is when your body rests and repairs itself. Manage your stress as best as you can. Try breathwork, journaling, or quick walks around the block when you notice that you’re stressed. Having high stress levels puts you in fight or flight mode and depletes your body of the energy and resources it needs to thrive.
50s: According to heart.org, this is a time when people tend to put on more weight. Our body may not be as efficient at “working off” those donuts as it was in our 20s and 30s as our metabolism has slowed down. Maintaining a healthy weight can increase your chances of avoiding heart disease.
Try this: Add more fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fatty fish to your diet. Branch out and try more plant-based meals. Eat seasonal and local produce whenever possible. It’s not about depriving your body of food but adding more nutritious foods to your plate.
60s: It’s a myth that people become too old to workout. In fact, when you’re more sedentary it becomes more difficult to maintain regular movement and that is what will hinder your exercise routine.
Try this: Speak with your primary care provider, physical therapist or training coach to help you modify your favorite physical activities to help protect your joints and prevent injury. Keep moving safely!
70s and beyond: As we age, our bodies may require more maintenance—that’s okay! It’s normal for our bodies to change and need more support, but we can adapt and still follow a healthy lifestyle.
Try this: Continue to attend your appointments, take your medications and follow the health plan that you and your primary care provider have created.
No matter your age, taking any or all of these actions will dramatically decrease your chances of developing heart disease, chronic health issues, cancer and stroke. If you need help figuring out where to start, please reach out to us. At DFD, your health is at the heart of what we do.
Source: cdc.gov, heart.org, lung.org