8 Tips for a Healthy Heart | YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka
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8 Tips for a healthy lifestyle

Get in Better Heart Health by following these 8 Diet and Lifestyle Tips

By Joel Seymour, Healthy Hearts Specialist, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

Are you looking to better your heart health and decrease your risk of heart disease? If so, there’s something you can do about it! By making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can help ward off heart disease.

Here are 8 great tips to help keep your ticker in tip-top shape:

Get active

The goal is to move and be active for 30-60 minutes at least 3 to 4 days per week.  No time to exercise? A recent survey of those 65 and older said they spent on average 4 hours and 20 minutes per day watching TV. Try going for a brisk 30-minute walk to start – your heart will thank you!

Eat well

Today most people are fairly knowledgeable about proper nutrition, but are they making the right choices?  You know that a fast food burger and fries are not good for you, but are you still choosing to eat it?  Consider taking a look at your diet and making better choices. Diet plays a huge impact on the health of your heart.

Lower cholesterol

LDL is ‘bad’ cholesterol and contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries (arteriosclerosis).  HDL is ‘good’ cholesterol and helps remove LDL from arteries.  Some cholesterol is derived from food and some are made in the liver.  Make healthy food choices (fish, almonds, avocados) to enhance your HDL and avoid bad foods (fatty meats) that carry more LDL.

Reduce blood pressure

Do you know what your blood pressure should be?  Do you know how to bring it down if it’s too high? Make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked or do it yourself at your local Shoppers Drug Mart.  Diet, exercise, lower stress, and less sodium are all non-medical ways to drop your blood pressure if it is too high.

Monitor your weight

Sadly, the majority of the North American population is overweight. In 2014, 62% of men and 46% of women in Canada were considered overweight or obese. So whether you need to lose 20 or 100 pounds, dropping that weight carries a variety of health benefits. Making simple lifestyle changes can drastically reduce your chance of heart disease.

Lower your blood sugar

Diet is very important in controlling blood sugar levels.  Strive to eat low GI (glycemic index) foods like beans, lentils, and leafy vegetables.  GI levels indicate how food affects blood glucose. Exercise will also lower blood sugar levels.

Quit smoking

There is a direct co-relation between smoking and heart disease.  The sooner you take that step to quit, the sooner your body will thank you.

Reduce stress

Stress is everywhere – whether it’s from work, your family or everyday life – so it’s important to learn how to properly deal with it! There are many online and in person organizations that supply various tips and tools on managing stress such as meditation, deep breathing, and exercise.


About the YMCA Healthy Hearts Program

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka offers the Healthy Hearts Program, in partnership with the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH). Located at the Barrie and Innisfil YMCAs, the program provides supervised rehabilitation and prevention services that are structured based on each individuals needs and goals. The program is designed to provide a smooth transition from the RVH Cardiac Rehab program and help people regain their strength, reduce the risk of future cardiac episodes and improve their health and quality of life. For more information, please contact the YMCA Healthy Hearts Team at 705-726-6421 ext. 231 or healthyheartsteam@ymca.ca.


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