By now, you know exercise is vital to good health. We’re not telling you anything new when we say that spending most of your time sitting isn’t good for you.
However, if you needed more proof, it’s come in the form of a brand-new study of 82,000 men from Kaiser Permanente. According to the report, men between the ages of 45 and 69 who spend more time sitting than engaging in physical activity have a significantly greater risk of heart failure. Overall, men who rarely or never exercise are 52 percent more likely to have heart trouble than their more active counterparts. More specifically, men who spend five hours or more per day sitting are 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than those men who spend fewer than two hours sitting.
While the study subjects were all men, researchers suspect the findings extend to women as well. There are certainly additional factors that can contribute to heart disease and heart failure, but the Kaiser Permanente study underscores an important point doctors have been making for years: the more you move, the better.
Understanding Heart Failure
When you think of heart failure, you may immediately think of the heart entirely stopping, such as during a heart attack. Heart failure is actually a long-term condition in which the heart cannot effectively pump blood throughout the body. Nearly six million people in the U.S. live with the condition, and most people are unaware of it until it causes problems.
Some of the signs of heart failure include shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, edema, fatigue, lack of appetite or nausea and confusion. Heart failure can also cause an increase in heart rate, as the heart attempts to compensate for the decreased blood flow by working harder. There is no cure for heart failure, but it can be treated with lifestyle changes and medication.
Healthy Diet Is Important as Well
According to the American Heart Association, more than half of all adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, and a third of adults have high levels of LDL or bad cholesterol, both of which can contribute to heart failure. Many keep these conditions under control with medications, but if you do not maintain a healthy lifestyle, even medication cannot completely prevent serious heart disease or heart failure. That’s why the AHA recently revised its guidelines regarding diet and exercise to encourage adults to reduce their risk of serious heart problems.
Heart health requires you to maintain a healthy diet the majority of the time — with only a few occasional indulgences. We all love a decadent meal or rich dessert now and then, and as long as such high-calorie, high-fat foods are the exception rather than the rule, your heart will remain strong enough to handle them.
That means your diet should be primarily fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and low-fat dairy. The AHA recommends limiting red meats and saturated fats, and avoiding harmful trans-fats altogether. If you stick to these guidelines, you can enjoy that slice of birthday cake and increase the effectiveness of the heart medications you buy from our Canadian pharmacy online.
The new guidelines also recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams per day to decrease blood pressure and to keep cholesterol in check by limiting the number of calories from saturated fat to about five percent of overall calorie intake. In addition to buying Zetia or another drug to keep your cholesterol in check, a healthy diet is the first step.
Adding Movement to Your Life
A healthy diet makes a difference in your heart health, but it’s only part of the equation. We cannot overlook the importance of physical activity.
In fact, the Kaiser Permanente study found physical activity even helped reduce heart failure risk in those who developed high blood pressure and/or cholesterol during the research. Adding physical activity to your routine doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym every day or start training for a marathon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults engage in 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days; the American Heart Association’s recommendation is 40 minutes of moderate intensity exercise three to four days per week. Moderate intensity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate through activities such as walking, dancing, swimming or bicycling.
If 40 minutes of exercise in one session doesn’t fit into your schedule, breaking up your activity throughout the day will still provide heart-healthy benefits. For example, take a 20-minute walk around the block in the morning and another in the afternoon. Every minute you spend doing something active and not sitting boosts your heart health and reduces the risk of heart disease or failure.
Keeping your heart healthy is one of the most important things you can do to live a long and fulfilling life. By following the guidelines for diet and exercise, you’ll not only keep your heart in good shape, you’ll also keep your weight in check and your other systems functioning normally. It’s never too late to start.