Three Steps to a Healthy Heart
Step 1: STAY ACTIVE
The more you move, the more your heart has to work to keep up. In fact, the faster you move, the faster your heart beats to keep your blood pumping to those active muscles. This is a good thing because it keeps your heart in shape. Since your heart is a muscle, the same principles that apply to strengthening other muscles in your body also apply to strengthening you heart. The more you use it, the stronger it gets, and the less you use it, the weaker it gets. You definitely want to keep your heart muscle strong!
Here are some ways you can move to keep your heart healthy:
- Walking or pushing
- Riding a bike or handcycle
Step 2: EAT SMART
You may be wondering if food affects your heart: it sure does! Some foods contain cholesterol and fat which, if eaten in excess, can cause plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that can build up in your arteries. Think of your arteries as a straw; when stuff gets stuck on the inside of your straw it gets harder to drink. That stuff is just like plaque. When plaque builds up and gets stuck to the insides of your arteries, the blood cannot flow smoothly.. Sometimes plaque can even block an artery completely. But there are other foods that contain FIBER, which can help fight off plaque.
Think of fiber like a superhero. Fiber can go through your arteries and pick up the plaque that is lying around getting in the way and get rid of it. It saves the day by getting rid of the bad. This is just one way food can play a very important role in how healthy you heart is!
A few foods that contain a great deal of bad fat and/or cholesterol are French fries and candy bars.
Examples of foods that contain fiber are cereals, oatmeal and apples.
Step 3: GET STRONGER
We already talked about how moving fast can help your heart, but so can building muscles. The weaker your heart muscle is, the harder it becomes to do things like push or walk long distances. You want to make sure your heart is strong enough to do anything you want it to do.
Here’s a list of exercises you can do to build your muscles:
- Push ups
Are you unsure how to do some of these exercises? Check out our inclusive fitness tips for some strength training examples like this one on performing dips.