You may think that heart health isn’t something you need to worry about until later on in life, but truth is, what you do now is going to have a much greater impact than you might realise. Here, Sydney-based heart specialist, Dr Elizabeth Shaw shares with us some of her best advice when it comes to simple ways you can start looking after your heart—no matter what age you are—to prevent risk of future development of heart-related issues including heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
In your 20s…
“Try to stay fit and healthy,” says Dr Elizabeth Shaw. “The things you do in your 20’s will impact your health for the rest of your life. Avoid recreational drugs. Don’t take up smoking – it’s so much harder to quit later. And if you’re still smoking, quit—as it’s just so bad for your health. Try and build regular exercise into your daily regimen. Your 20s are the foundation for your remaining adult life.”
In your 30s…
“Make sure you exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes every day. As you get busy with work and family life, women tend to put their own health last on the list but it’s really important to prioritise “me” time. Eat healthy regular meals. See your GP to have your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checked. These can impact your cardiovascular health and are easily treatable to prevent future cardiovascular disease. And again, STOP SMOKING.”
“Look after your body; as you start to notice the signs of ageing on the outside, be aware of your insides ageing too. Make sure your risk factors for cardiovascular disease on
under control (eg. blood pressure, blood sugars, cholesterol levels). I can’t recommend highly enough the importance of eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise. And again, you guessed it, STOP SMOKING.”
Best foods for heart health?
High fibre foods i.e. whole grains
Lots and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
Eating a well balanced diet from each of food groups is important for heart health
Avoid foods high in sugar and salt
The most important thing is to avoid over eating
Best exercises for heart health?
“Whilst any activity is better than nothing, exercise that increases your VO2 max is best,” says Dr Elizabeth Shaw. Things like running, rowing and swimming. “The best kind of training to deliver improvement in VO2 is heart-rate-based interval training.”
“VO2 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise,” explains Dr Elizabeth Shaw. “It is a common measurement used to establish the aerobic endurance of an athlete prior to or during the course of training.”
“Increasing VO2 max can reverse and/or help prevent the following conditions (and many more): heart disease, stroke, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, many cancers, depression and anxiety, dementias and Alzheimer’s.” Looking to improve your VO2 max? The Orangetheory Fitness can help boost it by 15% in just 8 weeks. Click here to learn more.