Each year, February is the British Heart Foundation’s National Heart Month. In the UK, there are currently 7.6 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases. These diseases put increased strain on the heart and can lead to heart attacks.
There are simple lifestyle changes that we can all make to reduce our risk of future heart problems.
How to improve your heart health
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Those who are overweight or living with obesity have a greater chance of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes than those within the healthy range. These health problems, in turn increase the risk of heart disease. Many people struggle to maintain a healthy weight, but this does not mean developing heart problems is inevitable. Making small, sustainable diet and lifestyle can have a significant impact on your heart health.
Make sure you are exercising regularly. The NHS recommends undertaking at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, which equivalates to 30 minutes, 5 days a week. This reduces to 75 minutes if you are undertaking high intensity exercise, such as running, HIIT or swimming.
If you are not sure whether you are undertaking moderate or high intensity exercise, use the ‘talk test;’ during moderate exercise you should be able talk, whereas during high intensity exercise you will only be able to say a few words at a time. But remember, something is better than nothing and you can gradually build up. Perhaps start with a brisk walk around your local park or join a Cheshire East walking group for a guided walk. After that, the NHS’ Couch to 5K is a great app to help you get into running!
Diet is also important for maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your heart healthy. You should be eating at least 5 portions of fruit & veg a day. The key to the best 5-a-day is variety and eating healthy foods can lower risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).
If you are looking to lose weight, it is healthier and kinder on your body to avoid crash diets and instead opt for gradual, sustainable options. Our free Manage Your Weight programme focuses on five key areas of: getting the balance right, the fullness factor, retraining your appetite, getting active and skills for weight management.
2. Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to protect your heart health. Smoking cigarettes can lead to your arteries becoming blocked or damaged which can cause heart attacks, strokes, and CVD. After 1 year of not smoking, you will have halved your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Quitting smoking can be extremely challenging, so we provide free support for 12 weeks with access to quit smoking aids. You are 3x more likely to be successful in your quit attempt with our support. It is never too late to quit. If you would like support during your quit, you can join our free Be Smoke Free programme.
3. Make use of free NHS Health checks
If you are aged 40-74, with no pre-existing conditions listed on the NHS Health Check website you can get a health check for free. However, if you are outside of this bracket you may need to pay to go privately. Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise which areas of your health need improvement and how you can improve them. In other instances, you may be given medication to bring your risk down. These health checks are designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or dementia.
If you would like help to lead a healthier life, our health coaches are here to help! You can sign up to more than one of our programmes at the same time too. We cannot wait to help you on your journey to become a healthier you.Back to Blog