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Heart Alert for Younger Women: Lifestyle Counts

By Sandy Schroeder

Heart disease has actually declined in the United States in recent years, but the heart numbers for younger women have remained the same, according to Harvard and Indiana universities.

In response to these numbers, the researchers looked for lifestyle answers to help younger women improve heart health. Their analysis covered 20 years of records from almost 90,000 women, ages 27 to 44, who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study.

Six Healthy Lifestyle Steps

Here are their recommendations to maintain heart health.

Maintain a normal body mass index (BMI) - Do what it takes to achieve a normal ratio of weight to height. Normal is 18.5 to 25. Overweight is 25 to 30. Obese is over 30. See your doctor to discuss weight or diets.

Do not smoke - The American Heart Association says, “Smoking puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn the risks and quit today.” This message is decades old; obey it.

Watch seven or less hours of TV per week - If you are glued to the couch throughout the day, or all evening, you are inviting heart trouble. Sitting has been compared to smoking for health danger. Position your treadmill or yoga mat in front of the TV to keep moving. Or better yet, go for a walk, work in the garden, or go biking.

Get 2.5 hours of physical activity every day - Take a long look at your schedule and start slotting in spots to make exercise happen. Try 20-minute walks before breakfast. Do 10-minute breaks for each hour you sit at work. Make it to the gym after work and do some yoga stretches before bed.

Eat healthy - Follow the Alternate Healthy Eating Index diet guidelines for Americans, based on foods found to prevent serious illness. Try for a 40 percent success rate. The diet recommends:

Each day eat five or more servings of vegetables, four or more servings of whole fruit, five servings of whole grains, and one serving of nuts and legumes. Each week eat two servings of fish, especially fatty fish. Eat less than one serving of red meat or processed meat each month. Replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats. Eliminate sugary juices and sodas. Eat no trans fats and very little salt.

Limit alcohol to one drink a day - One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Note: This lifestyle also helps lower blood pressure and high cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes. Moms who adopt this lifestyle will be helping their kids get an early start on heart health.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Huntington Beach, Calif.

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