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7 ways to keep your heart healthy

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This month's Lifestyle Wellness program is all about the heart. Wellness Coordinator Olivia Turnbull is running free seminars across each community to share information and tips on keeping your heart healthy. Even if you've had some heart troubles already, there's plenty of easy things you can do to make a difference to your ticker today, while also improving your health and wellbeing overall for the long term. Olivia shares 7 ways to keep your heart healthy and strong!

Be physically active

Did you know people who aren’t physically active are almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart diseases as those who are? Sitting less and moving more helps strengthen our heart, lowers blood pressure, helps us achieve a healthy weight, boosts our mental wellbeing and helps us sleep better.

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

Being a healthy weight reduces the risk of diabetes, helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and independently lowers the risk of heart problems. Aim for the recommended waist circumference of less than 94cm for males and 80cm for females.

Be smoke free

Smoking affects the vessels that supply blood to our heart and other parts of the body and reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. Quitting smoking can be hard at first; although, it’s like learning to ride a bike or drive a car - you can do it with planning, practice and help. The benefits of quitting outweigh any temporary difficulties or symptoms you may feel!

Reduce saturated fat intake

High saturated fat intake is linked to increased cholesterol, in particular bad (LDL) cholesterol. Balance your good (HDL) and bad cholesterol by choosing healthier fats such as olive oil and avocado. This will help reduce your risk of heart disease Saturated fat mainly comes from animal fats and processed foods, so reduce the amount of these foods. Remember — everything in moderation!

Increase dietary fibre

Fibre is the indigestible parts of plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes. Fibre helps keep our digestive systems healthy, make us feel fuller for longer, improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can help in preventing heart disease!

Look after your mental health

Talk, laugh, meditate, confide, exercise and enjoy others’ company. Looking after our mental health is important for a healthy heart. There can be a greater risk of heart disease for people who are depressed, socially isolated or stressed.

Aim for 7-9

Sleep not only refreshes our minds and repairs the body, but is crucial for cardiovascular health. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night can be difficult, so start with sticking to a routine. Keeping the same bed time helps to regulate our circadian rhythm (body clock). Alarms and reminders can help!

Olivia Turnbull is Lifestyle Communities Wellness Coordinator. She has a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science majoring in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Deakin University. Olivia is passionate about helping people achieve healthy, active lives through knowledge and personal empowerment.