Women and a Healthy Heart … The Early Years Matter!
Children tend to do what comes naturally. They don’t realize that participating in weight-bearing exercise and eating a balanced diet while you’re young contributes to life-long heart health. As an adult, the importance of healthy behaviors and monitoring the strength of your heart grows in importance.
Know Your Numbers
Do you know your total cholesterol level or blood pressure? Have you measured your waist lately? Evaluating your numbers compared to what’s considered healthy can help keep you heart smart.
Healthy Number Guidelines:
- A desirable total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL
- Normal levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol differ:
- Less than 100 mg/dL is optimal for most adults and 100-129 mg/dL is considered near optimal/above optimal levels
- For those people with diabetes or heart disease, their LDL level should be less than 70 mg/dL
- High risk LDL levels for adults range from160-189 mg/dL and very high risk is categorized as 190 mg/dL and above
- HDL (good) cholesterol level should be 50mg/dL or higher for women and 60 mg/DL or above can help protect your heart
- Triglycerides levels should be less than 150 mg/dL
- Healthy blood pressure level is 120/80 mmHg
- Fasting glucose should be <100 mg/dL
- Healthy Optimum Body Mass Index (BMI) values are 18.5 to 24.9 Kg
- Waist measurement should be under 35 inches
- Thirty minutes of moderate exercise almost everyday or 25 minutes of vigorous exercise three times per week or a combination of the two
To get your numbers within these ranges and to keep them there, it’s important to maintain healthy behaviors. Here are some helpful lifestyle tips:
You’re never too busy to move. If participating in regular exercise seems overwhelming, consider committing to just moving your body. Park further away from the movie theatre, take the stairs more often, window shop, dance around the house or garden. By combining motion with pleasurable activities, you are less likely to notice your body is physically active. Just ten minutes three times a day is enough to provide heart healthy benefits.
Smart Shopping. For a healthy heart, read the label and select items containing less than 2.4 mg of sodium, one gram of saturated fat and zero grams of cholesterol. Or better yet, choose foods that don’t have a label to read such as fruits and vegetables! Reach for foods with whole grains (at least 2 grams of fiber). Pay attention to portion size – a handful is about right for most foods and only half a handful for high-fat products.
Role model. Set a good example to help the young people in your life develop healthy habits. Encourage their participation in exercise, and promote the value of fresh, healthy foods. Empower them to pay attention to how their body feels when it’s active and well-nourished. It will do everyone’s heart good!