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Heart Healthy Living During an Economic Crisis

Even before the full force of the economic downturn became part of the nightly news, the levels of stress Americans were feeling about our finances were pretty intense making heart healthy living more difficult.

The American Psychological Association completed a survey called Stress in America, released in October 2008 (with data collected as late as September, just as the stock market was heading downward) found a full 46% of us were already worried about providing for our families basic needs.

Money was a concern for 72%, work for 68%, housing for 47% and job insecurity by 34%.

What’s worse, more of us are reporting physical symptoms from all that stress compared to a year ago. The sleepless nights and a shorter fuse. The wrangling and worry are chipping away at our health.

At these unhealthy (and constant) stress levels, coupled with eating fat and calorie laden foods and dropping workout sessions to take on more hours at work, we’re all taking a pretty big chance with the health of one of our most vital organs – our heart.

What can you do to help yourself?

One of the first, best things you can do is to take better care of your body by eating a healthy diet that gives you the 5 servings of fruits and vegetables experts recommend we eat each day.

Cooking foods at home, instead of using prepared ones or eating out, can help you save money and give your body good-for-you basics at the same time.

Food closer to it’s natural state is almost always more affordable than a prepared alternative – think salad in a bag vs. the old fashioned head of lettuce, tomatoes, radishes and such. Convenience is expensive, and it isn’t always good for us.

But diet is only one part of the heart health picture.

You also need to know the risks your body has for heart disease.

- Do you have a family history of heart disease?
- What are your cholesterol numbers?
- Do you have low enough LDL (bad) cholesterol and high enough HDL (good) cholesterol?
- And what about your blood pressure, is it high or low?

Recognize too that the heart is a muscle, and like other muscles, to stay strong and healthy it must be exercised and exercised regularly. Even just half an hour of walking a day is a good start.

Almost as important, finding a way to manage your stress level is another key to keeping your heart healthy.

You need a positive outlet for all that nervous energy – rigorous workouts or cleaning, meditation or relaxation breathing, hobbies or laughter – all are great for reducing the stress in your life.

The American Psychological Association also offers some wonderful, common sense tips for managing your stress level during these uncertain economic times.

During times when money is tight, you might be tempted to put off your healthcare or cut your gym memberships.

But doing this hurts you more in the long run as you feel bad for longer than you have to, and end up spending more time and money getting yourself well (or in healthy shape) again.

If you’re having trouble affording your prescription medications, talk with your doctor.

Often the pharmaceutical companies have programs to help patients get the medicine they need at no cost, or the doctor might be able to supply samples to help you out.

Good heart health also comes, as we all know, from not smoking, and avoiding second hand smoke as much as possible.

Smoking, beyond the expense, greatly increases your risk of heart problems, as well as other dangerous diseases. Quitting now will start you on the road to reduced risk and saving some money too.

It’s easy to allow the bad news to take over and sabotage your health. The trick is to remember this isn’t the first time we’ve faced tough times, and it probably won’t be the last.

We may not be able to control what happens in the economy or the world around us, but we can control the toll it takes (or doesn’t take) on our heart and our health and ensure we stick to heart healthy living.

A Checklist For Healthy Living – 7 Steps Towards Living a Healthy Life

The term healthy living is used so often these days, it’s hard to know exactly what that means. Here are 7 simple steps to keep you on track for living a full and healthy life.

1. Get Proper Rest- 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night gives your body the necessary daily amount of time to rest and rejuvenate. The proper amount of rest will vary from one person to another, but you’ll know when you’re getting enough sleep. You’ll feel more positive in general, have more patience with life’s big and little snags, and feel more energized.

2. Reduce Stress- Pinpoint those areas of your life that cause you the greatest stress, and get rid of them. At first this may seem like an impossible task, but your health is at risk if you don’t. Constant stress is a destructive force on your body and should not be taken lightly. Reducing stress could mean something as simple as setting limits on how much you try to do in one day, or it could mean something huge like a career change. This is not usually something that can be accomplished in one day, but if you make up your mind to make small changes each day, you will be rewarded with a calmer more fulfilling life.

3. Do What You Love- Somewhere between childhood and adults, many of us forget to take time to do the things we love. Life comes at us with all the things we ought to do, and the things we love to do take a back seat or get left out all together. Sit down with pencil and paper, and make a list of things you love to do. Then make time to do them. Don’t say there isn’t time, because there is time for everything else. Look at what you can eliminate, that will let you make time in your life to spend really enjoying what you love.

4. Eat a Nutritious Diet- Maintain a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, foods high in fiber and low in fat, lean meat, fish, beans and whole grain bread and pasta. Eat fresh organic foods to avoid ingesting pesticides and additives used in the growing and manufacturing process. Frozen vegetables tend to have less salt than their canned counterparts. But when choosing canned vegetables or soups, most have a low sodium version.

5. Maintain Proper Weight- As more and more of the population becomes overweight; this step towards healthy living cannot be over emphasized. Obesity can result for a number of reasons including consistently consuming over sized portions that have become the standard in many restaurants. Eating until you are full rather than eating everything on your plate can help you maintain the weight that is best for your body.

6. Exercise Regularly- When we were children it was called playing, and now that we are adults it’s called exercising. Setting up unrealistic goals at a gym can often set you up to fail. But staying physical doesn’t have to be done at the gym, or as an isolated event such as a treadmill. Instead, think of an activity that you enjoy such as gardening, walking your dog, sailing, hiking, or cycling, and do it.   Looking forward to something you love means you are more likely to do it regularly, and being consistent is the most important part of exercise.

7. Filter Your air- Even though it’s discussed last in this article, the air you breathe is probably the single most important component for healthy living. If the air you’re breathing has the potential to or is making you sick, it’s really hard to move beyond it in your life.

Using a high efficiency particle arresting (abbreviated as HEPA) air purifier to filter your indoor air is one of the best things you can do to preserve your health. Its .3 micron filter by definition will remove airborne pollutants such as dust, dust mites, mold and mildew spores, bacteria and viruses, as well as all kinds of pollen, and dander from pets.

These airborne triggers can make a healthy person sick, and greatly aggravate those with existing respiratory conditions such as allergies and asthma. 

Low Sodium Diet – Learn The Importance Of Knowing About Your Daily Sodium Intake For Healthy Living