1. Banking on Your Workout
Do you exercise? That’s great. But if you sit down for most of the rest of your day, that’s a problem. You need to be active all day long. Little bursts count. If you have a desk job, take a short walk every hour to boost your circulation, even if it’s just to your break room and back. Binge-watching your favorite show? Get up and dance, or do push-ups during the commercials.
2. Saying “I’m Too Young”
Don’t wait to get to work on keeping your heart healthy. Exercise, eat a healthy diet and know your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. The ideal time to do your heart a favor is right now.
3. One Drink Too Many
For most people, moderate drinking (one a day for women, up to two daily for men) is OK. A daily drink may even have some benefits for the heart. But more than that can raise levels of certain fats in the blood and blood pressure, too. That’s especially true if you have several drinks at a time. So stick to your daily limit.
4. Dissing a Good-for-You Diet
You may think it’s going to be all oat bran, all the time. Surprise! There’s no reason for your food to be bland and boring. A Mediterranean-style diet has delicious foods like olive oil, nuts, fruit, whole grains, fish, lean protein, and red wine. It helps keep your heart healthy. Credit the “good” fats, fiber, and nutrients. Plus, you’ll actually want to stick to this diet, because it tastes so good!
5. You Don’t Know Your Numbers
Pop quiz: What’s your cholesterol level? How about your blood pressure? No clue? That’s risky. They could be too high without you knowing. (You could feel just fine and have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.) So protect yourself. Starting at age 20, get your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years.
6. Waist Not
Belly fat is particularly risky for your heart. So get your tape measure and size up the inches around your waist. It’s a red flag if it’s more than 35 inches around for women, or 40 inches for men. Need to drop some inches? Take it step by step. Even losing a small amount of weight is good for your heart.
7. You Ignore Your Blues
When you feel low, it’s hard to do things like exercise that are good for you. If you have felt down for more than a few weeks, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Talk therapy, exercise, and medication (if needed) can improve your mood, so you have more energy to take care of yourself.
8. You Blow Off Secondhand Smoke
Someone else’s smoke could hurt your heart and blood vessels. You need to avoid it. So if you spend a lot of time with someone who isn’t ready to quit smoking, insist that they at least not smoke around you, whether it’s at home, work, or in your car. Your tough love may be the nudge they need to kick the habit, which will be good for both of you.