Heart healthy tips to prevent heart disease

For broke and busy students, it can be hard to stick to a strict, healthy routine of diet and exercise—especially since a lot of us seem to be the most productive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., when our most viable options for sustenance are Taco Bell’s Fourth Meal and a few cans of Red Bull. But with cardiovascular disease as the top cause of death in Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s really important to make an effort to squeeze a few daily health practices into a busy college schedule to help maintain a strong heart.

The American Heart Association works hard to increase awareness about heart health and to combat heart disease and stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, just 30 minutes of physical activity per day, including walking, can decrease your risk for heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis as well as improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The small amount of exercise needed to start improving the health of your heart can be done even without a gym membership.

If you live close enough, the commute to class and back can provide a great opportunity for some physical activity. Grab your iPod and walk or ride your bike to campus. Instead of driving around trying to find a close parking spot on campus, if you do not live close enough to walk, give yourself time to park further away and walk to your building. As an added measure, take the stairs instead of the elevator to get to your class.

You can get your physical activity in throughout the day as well. Take a 20 minute break from studying and try an exercise you can do in your dorm room or apartment. Jumping jacks, squats and even jogging in place (as awkward as it might feel) are all simple exercises designed to get your heart pumping, and can be done practically anywhere. If you feel inspired, you can even make your own workout with a good song and some cheesy dance moves. Just remember that an active heart is a healthy heart.

Exercise is not the only thing you can do to decrease your risk of heart disease. When you’re hungry on campus, try to stay away from things like chips and candy. If you can, pack your own snacks made up of healthy and fibrous fruits and veggies. The American Heart Association recommends celery, carrots and broccoli and fruits like bananas and strawberries, all of which are easy to eat on the go and perfect for a break between classes or while at work.

While it can be hard to keep up with a solid, healthy lifestyle on top of mountains of homework and paying your way through college, a little work can go a long way. By starting to pick up these daily habits, you’re one step closer to healthy living—and one step further from heart disease.

For more information on cardiovascular disease and what you can do to prevent it, as well as tips to stay healthy including nutrition, physical activity, stress management and how to quit smoking, check out the American Heart Association online at www.heart.org.

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