A Healthy Heart

For many decades now, heart disease has been on the rise. The incidence of heart disease used to be more common in older people, but as the decades pass, the ages of people who develop heart conditions keeps dropping – even people in their 30s are now being diagnosed with one heart condition or another. Our sedentary lifestyles, stressful, fast-paced lives and dietary practices stand in direct correlation to the prevalence of heart disease. Although our physicians seem to constantly be chiding us on following a healthy lifestyle and getting regular exercise, so many of us put off this good advice to some day in the future. Today, it’s important to understand that heart disease can strike you even at a relatively young age. Keeping a healthy heart should be a lifelong pursuit which begins in childhood. Let’s take a look at the ABCs of a healthy heart.

If you take a look at the statistics regarding heart disease over the past several decades, it becomes apparent that a healthy heart does have a relationship to exercise. Up until the 1980s and early 1990s, kids were far more active than they are today. Riding bikes, participation in sports and playground activities were part of a kid’s daily life. As the couch potato syndrome developed, along with time spent at the PC and video games becoming the norm, kids became less inclined to get out in the fresh air after school, opting instead to sit in front of the tube or computer, adopting a sedentary lifestyle while still in their teens. It’s also notable that physical education is now an optional, instead of mandatory, class.

As parents, we need to insist that kids engage in regular, physical exercise on a daily basis. If you look at the statistics on overweight kids, a lack of sufficient exercise is one of the major culprits. As adults, we need to impose the same rules for ourselves – setting a good example, as well as keeping ourselves fit and avoiding heart problems down the road.

While we enjoy many benefits and conveniences of the modern day, there are also inherent pitfalls. For example, we all know that fast food and highly refined and processed food are rife with much more fats, sugars, additives and a host of preservatives which certainly do nothing to promote a healthy heart. Sure, we all indulge in the occasional ‘pizza night’ or fast food dinner to accommodate busy schedules, but this should not become the daily dietary practice. Freshly prepared meals, which are low in saturated and trans fats, along with those daily, 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies, go a long way towards keeping a healthy heart healthy. When you make heart-healthy meals the norm, rather than the exception, you’re much less likely to develop a heart condition at an early age. In fact, when you make regular exercise and a healthy diet a lifelong practice, chances are good that you’ll maintain a healthy heart well into your old age!