Did you know that in men, the lifetime risk of having a heart attack is 49 percent? Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and we are all at risk. In celebration of dad, now is the time to do what it takes to help him keep his ticker beating strong. Heart disease is a largely preventable disease through a healthy lifestyle.
What’s the best lifestyle strategy for preventing a heart attack?
Getting a routine heart attack risk check-up by a physician is the first step in prevention. The doctor will provide a set of numbers that may or may not be in the optimal range. The second step is to know and understand these numbers. Here are the number goals for the father in your life to aim for:
1. LDL (bad) cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
2. HDL (good) cholesterol: greater than 40 mg/dL
3. Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dL
4. Fasting blood glucose: less than 100 mg/dL
5. Blood pressure: Less than 120/80 mmHg
6. BMI: under 25
Four Lifestyle Tips for Keeping Dad’s Heart Healthy
1. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
Exercise is the best medicine. A recent study published in the December 2011 issue of Circulation (the prestigious American Heart Association journal) found that fitness is the key to longevity in men. The study showed that men who were physically fit in their 40s and maintained their fitness level over the long term reduced their risk of death by 30% compared to flabby 40 year old men. An ideal exercise program for keeping dad’s ticker strong and healthy involves cardio exercise daily along with strength training a minimum of twice per week.
2. Eat a nutritious, Mediterranean-style diet. A plant-based diet filled with whole foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, nuts and legumes (and low in processed foods) is the best diet for a strong and healthy heart. A glass or two of red wine with dinner (if dad’s physician approves) has also been shown to cut the risk of heart disease in men.
3. De-stress healthfully. You are probably already aware that stress contributes to plaque buildup and heart disease. Treat dad to a massage or other types of healthful stress-reducing activities. Encourage him to take some personal time on a daily basis to release stress—partaking in activities that help him take a breather such as painting, playing with the dog, enjoying nature or simply taking a walk.
4. Weight control. Overweight contributes to the progression of heart disease. Encourage the man in your life to do what it takes to get his weight under control. The healthiest way to lose weight is eat a nutritious, calorie-controlled diet and combine that with daily exercise.
June is the month we celebrate the dad’s in our life. Take this time to give dad the best gift of all, the gift of heart health. You can achieve your health and fitness goals with the help of Fitness Together. Fitness Together offers one-on-one sessions with experienced personal trainers who will develop exercise workouts tailored to your needs and goals. An important part of their program is Nutrition Together, which provides nutritional counseling to complement your exercise regimen. Let Fitness and Nutrition Together help the father in your life to keep his ticker healthy and strong! To find the Fitness Together studio nearest you, visit www.fitnesstogether.com.