Would you like to live to be 100? Be careful what you wish for of course, but what if old age wasn’t about wheelchairs and bed baths? What if you were fit enough for tennis and smart enough for bridge until your 90s and beyond? It doesn’t take much to improve your chances of becoming a centurion.
It could be you, and it take much to improve your chances of a birthday card from Queen.
Beating a Killer
At the heart of the matter is, of course, your heart. A huge international study in 2004 involving 30,000 people in 52 counties concluded that easily measured risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, diet, body fat, exercise and stress, accounted for more than 90 percent of the risk of having a first heart attack. All of these risk factors are avoidable if you understand them and follow a plan.
While treatments are constantly improving for those who suffer heart attacks and manage to reach a hospital in time, some 40 percent of people who die of a heart attack have no symptoms, and half of these people die within the first two hours of having a heart attack, often before meaningful medical attention is available. The responsiblity for prevention falls on the individual-you. Make the necessary lifestyle changes and you can improve your survival and quality of life.
Your heart wasn’t designed to fail in the prime of life. this ingenious, fist-size pump – a non-stop machine made of muscle, nerves, blood vessels and electrical transmitters – can be destroyed by everyday temptations, such as takeaway food, hours of TV viewing and the stress of modern life. The way we live now poses unprecedented threats. Most people eat too much and exercise too little, so many of us either overweight or even clinically obese.
Look after your heart and it will look after you. There are effective steps you can take – without adding more jobs to your to-do list or expenses to protect your heart in the way nature intended:
- Focus on small changes for big results. Simple diet modifications can cut cholesterol by as much as 30 per cent. A 5-minutes-a-day weight-training program can replace 10 years’ worth of lost muscle tissue. Look for time saving lifestyle changes that get results, don’t cost a fortune and are easy to stick with in the long run.
- Conquer ‘sitting disease’. Australians are leading increasingly sedentary lives with more than half the adult population not being active enough to enjoy health benefits. Try to build healthy movement back into your life, no matter how busy you are.
- Eat fresh foods. Fresh, whole foods don’t have to cost more or take more time to prepare than processed and packaged stuff. Apples and other fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, fish, particularly species rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon; meats, dairy products and even soy products-not only taste good, they also reduce blood fats, lower elevated blood sugar, calm inflammation and flight destructive free radicals.
- Know your numbers. Track your success by keeping tabs on certain essential numbers, including your weight and your waist measurement. All adults should know these ‘vital statistics’ but few do.
- Avoid toxins. From tobacco to trans fats, sugar to environmental pollutants, the toxins we allow into our bodies wreak havoc with our hearts. Your body doesn’t have to be a dumping ground for hazardous waste.
- Find joy. Research links hostility, impatience and bearing grudges with poor heart health; in contrast, forgiveness, friends and optimism are linked with healthier hearts. Find life meaningful, and be resilient when it’s not.