The following content is created in partnership with the American Heart Association. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Dallas Fort Worth's editorial staff. Click here to learn more about the Dallas Heart Walk.
The heart does the most physical work of any muscle and beats around 100,000 times a day. It is constantly working hard and it's important that you don't make it work harder than it needs to. Read below to find out 5 things you can do to help keep your heart healthy this fall.
Set goals for yourself. Be sure to set realistic goals that you can manage and adjust at your own pace. Instead of changing up your routine drastically and shocking your system, make gradual changes you can follow through on in the long term. Set realistic goals and adjust them when necessary to your own needs. Heart health-focused goals may consist of changing up a diet, getting more physical activity, or taking part in stress-busting hobbies which you enjoy.
Make sleep a priority. Sleep is incredibly important to your heart health. Individuals who don't sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. The amount and quality of sleep you get each night can influence your eating habits, mood, memory and the function of your heart. You should be aiming for 7–9 hours of sleep each night to ensure your body has enough time to recharge.
Eat clean and healthy. The food you put in your body helps fuel it. To have a healthy heart, you should fuel your body with nutritious, healthy meals which will fill you up and provide nutrients your body needs. Limit or cut out salt, saturated fats, alcohol, simple sugars and processed foods. If you're not big on cooking, an easy first step is to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. Instead of cutting out food groups or items entirely, gradually adjust your meals to reflect a healthier, more balanced plate.
Quit smoking and control alcohol intake. Quitting is the best thing you can do for your health if you are a smoker. Cigarette smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke at work or home have a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. To successfully quit smoking set a date within the next 7 days, choose a method (either cold-turkey or gradually) and deal with cravings by getting active and avoiding situations that make you want to smoke. For more help on how to quit tobacco, head to the American Heart Association's website here.
Tackle a challenge. A great way to keep yourself motivated is by tackling something seemingly difficult. Once you've overcome a challenge, you will likely want to continue on your path to health and well-being. If you're looking to accomplish an exercise goal you've set for yourself, you should register to participate in this year's Fort Worth Heart Walk. The Heart Walk will help you get moving and boost your physical activity while giving you the ability to help save lives.
The Heart Walk is open to the community as all are welcome to participate and change the story of heart disease and stroke in North Texas. Heart Walks are the American Heart Association's premiere event to raise funds to save lives from heart disease and stroke. By walking, you won't just be getting active and staying healthy, you'll be changing lives. For more information or to register, visit dallasheartwalk.org or fortworthheartwalk.org.