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Reduce Heart Disease by Ramping Up These Healthy Habits

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5 good habits after 50

Ready to extend your life by more than a decade? Look no further than five healthy habits: never smoke, maintain a healthy body-mass index, exercise moderately to vigorously, don’t drink too much alcohol, and eat a healthy diet.

According to a study published in the journal Circulation, when you start following these practices at age 50 you could live an extra 14 years if you are a woman, or an extra 12.2 years if you’re a man.

Commenting on this research, Dr. Meir Stampfer, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the study: “We can do so much better for having a long healthy life by pretty simple minimal changes in our behavior, and only 8% of adults in our country are adhering to these.”

That’s right, Dr. Stampfer says that less than one in ten U.S. adults are following these lifestyle habits!

Clear results from 34-year study

The dramatic impact of behaviors on our longevity was revealed in research on more than 122,000 people during 1980-2014.

The study concluded that projected life expectancy at age 50 was to live 33.3 more years for women and 29.8 more years for men. But women who adopted all five healthy lifestyle factors lived 43.1 more years while men lived an extra 37.6 years, researchers reported.

“To me, the surprising outcome was how strong it was: what a big impact these simple behaviors could have on life expectancy,” Stampfer said. “I was surprised that it was that pronounced.”

And to surprising, we can also add encouraging!

Reduce heart disease at 50, 60, 70

“..if you’re beyond age 50, beyond age 60, beyond age 70, it’s not too late,” Dr. Stamper added.

You’ll probably agree that this is a common sense approach to reducing the risk of heart disease and living longer. But according to Dr. Stampfer, “…only 8% of adults in our country are adhering to these.”

Hopefully, getting the word out will help the other 92%! Dr. Douglas Vaughn, chairman of  Northwestern University’’s Feinberg School of Medicine, suggested that the findings around living a healthier life are both encouraging and motivating.

After all, these changes in behavior our health in our own destiny!

If you need shock and awe motivation, consider this wakeup call from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: more than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease every year.

“The main take-home message is that there’s huge gains in health and longevity to be had just by simple changes in our behavior pattern, and as a country, I think we need to make it easier for ourselves to do this by promoting tobacco cessation, by providing better environments for physical activity and so on,” Dr. Stampfer comments.

Breathwork and meditation

In addition to the five ideas explored above, a pair of mind-body practices are increasingly gaining traction to combat heart-related issues: breathwork and meditation.

Your breath is a powerful ally that can help reduce stress on your body, heart rate and blood pressure. A variety of breathing techniques seem to delay reactions to stress, burnout and fatigue.

It’s as simple as taking a deep breath. Heart Health Guide agrees that “breathing exercises are able to reduce blood pressure and heart rate.”

One recommended technique to reduce heart disease is diaphragmatic breathing. That means, instead of shallow breathing that only reaches our chest, we use our diaphragm muscle to expand the belly. It takes a little time to master, but it’s worth the effort.

Working on your breath can be complemented by developing a mindfulness meditation practice. Prominent scientists now believe that mediation can cut heart disease risk. Benefits may include a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduced breath rate. It can even lower adrenaline and cortisol levels, which can help defeat anxiety and stress.

Does your healthier future start now?

The potential to live longer and feel better is in your hands — and that’s a great thing! If you’d like to add a decade or more to your life, make a heart-felt decision to adopt these healthy habits today.

Resources:

These 5 healthy habits could help you live a decade longer, study suggests
Breathing exercises are able to reduce blood pressure and heart rate
Diaphragmatic Breathing Video (opens in YouTube)
Is There a Difference Between Prayer and Meditation? I Hope So…

About The Author

Rob Wagner

With over 20 years experience writing for leading healthcare outlets, Rob is passionate about bringing awareness to the issues overlying our aging society. As a caretaker to his father, Rob understands first-hand the experiences and challenges of caring for an aging parent. As an advocate for caregiver self care, his favorite activities include walking on the beach, hiking in the coastal hills of Southern California and listening to music. Rob received his Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English from the University of Redland.

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