Heart health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, and the American Heart Association (AHA) stands at the forefront of providing comprehensive guidelines for maintaining optimal cardiovascular health. It’s important to recognize that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. In the USA, 1 in 5 deaths every year are related to cardiovascular disease. The top risk factors for CV disease are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, overweight and obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.

The following guidelines provide a holistic approach that addresses various lifestyle factors contributing to heart health.

1 – Healthy Diet:

The AHA emphasizes the importance of a heart-healthy diet, recommending a variety of nutrient-rich foods. The Mediterranean Diet, regarded as the most effective nutritional approach to minimizing the risk for cardiovascular disease, emphasizes plant-based foods and healthy fats. Strive to eat mostly veggies, fruits, legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains, fish, and lean cuts of meat, and use extra virgin olive oil as your main source of fat. Reduce your sugar intake and processed foods.

2 – Regular Physical Activity:

Exercise is key to heart health. The AHA recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. Additionally, muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week contribute to overall cardiovascular fitness. Walking is the simplest way to increase your cardiovascular exercise and is highly effective, can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any special equipment. Strive for 5000 steps daily (approx. 3 miles) and progress to 10,000 steps (approx. 6 miles) per day as often as possible. Regular physical activity helps manage weight, lower blood pressure, and improve overall heart function.

3 – Minimize Alcohol Consumption:

While some studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption may have cardiovascular benefits, recent evidence suggests avoiding it all together. If you choose to drink, limit your intake as much as possible. If you do not drink alcohol, don’t start.  Excessive alcohol intake can lead to various health issues, including heart problems. 

4 – Don’t Smoke:

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are major risk factors for heart disease. The AHA strongly advocates for tobacco cessation to reduce the risk of heart-related issues. If you smoke, the best thing you can do for the health of your heart and to increase longevity, is to stop. 

5 – Stress Management:

Chronic stress can negatively impact heart health. The AHA recommends adopting stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Managing stress is integral to maintaining a healthy heart and overall well-being.

6 – Ideal Body Weight:

Strive for a caloric intake and energy expenditure that allows you to maintain an optimal body weight and body fat level for your frame. Obesity is a high-risk factor for heart disease. 

7 – Schedule Regular Health Check-Ups:

Monitoring and managing risk factors is crucial for heart health. Regular health check-ups help in assessing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other factors contributing to cardiovascular health. 

Taking proactive steps towards safeguarding your cardiovascular well-being not only reduces the risk of heart disease, but also promotes a healthier and better quality of life. 

FREE Panel Discussion

The American Heart Association and Northwest Personal Training have combined forces to provide a FREE panel discussion to review the controversies in heart health. Join Doctors, Therapists, Trainers, and Nutritionists for an evening of heart health topics that will clear up the confusion about the best methods to improve the overall health of your heart.

Date: Tuesday, February 27th
Time: 6:45pm
Location: NWPT – 1011 Broadway – Downtown Vancouver

Call 360.574.7292 or email info@nwpersonaltraining.com to reserve your spot. Space is limited. 


Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at nwpersonaltraining.com.

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