7 Healthy Heart Tips for 2.5 Billion Beats

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2951-718085_heart.jpgSince February is known as Heart Awareness Month, I thought we could review the key lifestyle habits for a healthy heart.

After all, most experts say that the heart can beat between 1 and 2.5 billion beats per lifetime.

So, we might as well try to help the heart with its job!

7 Steps to a Healthy Heart

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight.
  2. Don’t Smoke or Stop Smoking. Smoking makes it hard for oxygen to reach the heart. Your risk for heart attack will at least double if you are a smoker. And this is a preventable factor.
  3. Monitor Alcohol Consumption. If you’re a female, this means 1 alcoholic beverage per day and for men, 2 maximum per day. Don’t forget to keep an eye on that portion size (5 oz. wine, 1.5 oz. liquor, and 12 oz. beer).

    And remember that wine is your best choice because of its high antioxidant content. A benefit is that most studies show that small portions of wine actually improve heart health!

  4. 2450-exercisse.jpg

  5. Exercise. It is recommended to be physically active most days to strengthen the heart.

    30 minutes to maintain health
    60 minutes to improve health
    90 minutes for weight loss

    You can be thin, but if you don’t exercise, you are at greater risk for heart health.

    Exercise helps to get the heart more oxygen, lower blood pressure, reduce resting heart rate, reduce stress and other mood disorders, increase energy, reduce weight, and improve sleep.

  6. Consume Anti-Inflammatory Fats. This includes fish oil, and any omega-3 fat sources like salmon, flaxseed, nuts, hemp, avocado, and sardines. By reducing body inflammation, the heart will stay healthy. Cholesterol levels will benefit the most.
  7. Avoid Pro-Inflammatory Fats like trans fats, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil.
  8. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods. Dark leafy greens and rich ripe fruits are full of antioxidants that help keep the heart young.

    An added bonus is that the fiber in these foods helps detoxify the body and eliminate harmful chemicals and toxins that may harm the heart.

Takeaway Points

We all know that proper diet and exercise will keep the body (and the heart) healthy. It is all about putting it into practice.

Knowledge is one thing, but behavior and habit change is another task to work on. Try journaling, getting together with a friend, or even professional support to change your lifestyle.

What to you do to keep your heart happy and healthy?

14 Comments

  1. sherry kamer

    well when i set and read this . i thought of what i was told a long time ago . and i dont eat any fried foods and i tried to eat more veg.and fruit. i also try to exersize as much as i can .cause im disabled now and its hard for me to do a lot of things that i know that i should but i try.

    Reply
  2. adelbert

    Wow this is the first time I’ve learned that we should take 90 minutes of exercise for weight loss, now I know why I am not losing weight because I just exercise for 30 minutes, thanks a lot for informing me.

    Reply
  3. T. Kallmyer

    I think something may be wrong with your math …..
    “Your heart beats about 100,000 times in one day and about 35 million times in a year. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. ”
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/heart/heartfacts.html most resources agree with the 2.5 billion number as an average. This gives a lifespan of 71 years while the average lifespan worldwide is 69 years.

    Reply
  4. Amya

    I am sorry but as a health care provider I cannot look past the title 2.5 billion beats. 2.5 billion? That doesn’t seem like a very long life to strive for. As an infant your heart rate can be 140 per MINUTE. Throughout childhood heart rates are normal over 100. In adult hood with heart rates at LEAST 60 times per minute hoping to get 2.5 billion heart beats seems ludicrous. With a heart rate average of 90 that would make you aim to have your heart beat for 52.85 years. Seriously?

    Reply
  5. HealthcareTiger

    Sometimes back i was suffering from heart problems. My cardiologist suggested me to avoid smoking.It took some time but finally i won and now i am enjoying my life a lot more.

    Reply
  6. Dan

    I find I don’t need a shower, because I wear a tee shirt on the way to work and change into my work shirt which I carry in my backpack when I get there. However, I do go at 5 in the morning to work and even in the summer, even here in the south (Atlanta) it is not scorching hot at that time. I also just read an article in the New York Times which stated that New Yorkers, who tend to walk more and drive less weigh on average about 6 or 7 pounds less than persons in the suburbs.

    Reply
  7. Jim

    There is no doubt that getting better shape doesn’t happen without some major lifestyle priority changes. What is most important. We all have 24 hours in the day – no more, no less.

    Like Dan, can you try and fit exercise into the normal routine you have each day?

    Reply
  8. Jim

    Exercise as part of your daily life is the best way to go, rather than exercise just for exercise sake. Good on you for biking to work. I did for a while back a few years, but stopped as we had no shower in the office…

    Reply
  9. Carlos

    While i was reading this article, i evaluated myself in this seven points and i am conscious that i have to adopt some habits to be in a better shape and to have a healthy heart. First of all, i dont eat very often vegetables and because i work i dont have time to go to the gym or to do exercise. Also I have to lose 10 pounds. Today I don´t smoke and don´t drink, but i used to do it.

    The big problem is that like me there is a lot of young people that have a similar lifestyle. But with this kind of post, we can think over all the acts that we do everyday and if they are beneficial for our hearts.

    I think that was the secret of past generations: they walked a lot and usually they ate healthy food.

    Since now i must go to a gym or like Dan i will buy a bicycle, i have to eat more vegetables and i will fight for be in my optimal weight, also i must control the quantity of oil in the food.

    Reply
  10. Dan

    I think one reason I stayed heavy for so long was that I thought 30 minutes a day of running was sufficient. I wouldn’t even do this everyday, but at best 4-5 times a week. One advantage of bicycling is that it turns something I already do (transportation) into exercise. I bicycle each day and back from work. I bicycle most places I go. For persons who work too far from home to commute this way- a lot of persons who work in a multi story building can take the stairs each and every time, count the minutes doing it and try for at least 30 minutes a day of this. Gyms are good, but they take time to drive to and from- although a person can also bicycle or walk to the gym. I haven’t had a gym membership for a few years and now have a trainer for my bike as well as some dumbbells. That and bicycling are very convenient ways to exercise.

    Reply
  11. Spectra

    Actually, the revised recommendations for exercise are 30 minutes daily to maintain cardiovascular health, 60 minutes daily to increase cardiovascular health, and 90 minutes daily for weight loss. So yeah, I think we as a society think that 30 minutes daily is, by itself, enough to lose weight. Sure, 90 minutes is a big chunk of time, but you can break it up throughout the day.

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  12. Jim

    Exercise duration is surely dependent on intensity. Most people just do not have the time for 90 minutes. Of course life is about priorities, but 90 minutes is a big ask.

    Reply
  13. Dan

    I appreciate that you stated that it takes 90 minutes of exercise per day for weight loss. The vast majority of studies in which exercise supposedly was only modestly effective for weight loss has the subjects exercising at most about 25 or 26 minutes per day which is about 3 hours a week. Some studies have the subjects doing on average just 8 minutes per day or an hour per week. I lost my weight at first bicycling about an hour each and every day and now to maintain my weight loss, I exercise 1.5 to 3 hours each and everyday. Exercise is effective for weight loss and maintenance, it just has to be in a fairly high volume. Of course, one’s diet cannot be excessive, but at that amount of exercise, it doesn’t have to be severely restrictive either. Hopefully, this amount of exercise that I do will prevent a heart attack. I do eat my nuts, flax, fruits and vegetables as well. My diet is full of natural sources of fiber. I maintain a healthy weight and do not smoke.

    Reply
  14. Spectra

    I do all of the above–I exercise daily, usually for an hour but sometimes only 45 minutes. I eat a lot of omega-3s, I avoid transfats, I don’t smoke, I limit my alcohol, and I load up on veggies and fruits. I’m fairly certain that if I’m going to die, it’s not going to be from a heart attack.

    Reply