Unfortunately, when we think of heart disease the first and only thing that comes to mind is a heart attack. When in reality heart disease encompasses a wide range of maladies, from tumors to angina. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men. Familydoctor.org a website ran by The American Academy of Physicians, states, Heart disease is the leading cause of death among middle-aged and older men.
What is surprising is most heart disease can be avoided by making simple choices in lifestyle and diet. Some risk factors are out of your control, but some can be minimized if not eliminated by making better-informed choices. Although there are many risk factors, three are always in your power to control; these are weight, diet, and exercise.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in our society and appears to be spreading globally. It seems everywhere you look there is another story expressing concern about the girth of Americans. We all know too much fat, processed food, and sugar can contribute to being overweight, but convenience over health seems to be the order of the day. Some may feel they are too far gone to turn around, but the two remaining factors in your control can help with weight control. It just takes patience, persistence, and a will to change.
Diet has become such a dirty word the mere mention of it sends chills up even the most diligent eaters’ spine. Getting back to the simplest and original use of the word diet may help to ease the anxiety of changing eating habits for the better. According to Webster’s Dictionary, diet is simply, Food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health. In other words, what you eat, what’s in it, and how you feel after you eat it. By adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet, you will make great strides in improving your overall health, which in turn will improve your weight.
The last factor, of course, is exercise. Contrary to the hype on television infomercials, you cannot eat all you want and not exercise. Exercise is vital for a healthy heart. The Physical Activity for Everyone section of the CDC website cites the 2008 Physical Guidelines for Americans as stating, Adults need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve their health- aerobic and muscle-strengthening. The recommended amounts are 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities a week. They even suggest breaking it up into ten-minute bouts if the whole time is a bit much at first. The required time is not a lot when you think about it, but very beneficial.