As we grow older our daily routines tend to form the habits that we take up for the rest of our lives. Although you may have been a track star in your youth, providing you with ample opportunity to eat whatever you like, this lifestyle doesn’t work as well for your heart health as you grow older.

What you eat and drink, your activity level, how you cope with
stress and other individual lifestyle factors help determine the
health of your heart. Heart disease is a progressive condition
that can start early in life but can also be prevented or controlled by making smart lifestyle choices.

To maintain a heart healthy lifestyle you need to form healthy habits as soon as you can, while maintaining them in your daily routine. Below are some of our recommendations to keep your heart healthy.

Heart Healthy Habits

Stay Active

Exercising regularly can help you lower your blood pressure, increase your energy levels and keep your heart and bones strong. The easiest exercise being, walking. It’s affordable, accessible and simple to master.

Most research studies suggest that from three to five hours of walking a week is the optimum for improving heart health.

If you’re interested in learning about other heart healthy exercises, take a look at some of our other suggestions.

Eat a Heart Healthy Diet

Understanding what types of heart-healthy foods to incorporate into your diet can be difficult if you have never maintained a heart healthy diet. Generally you want to focus on having fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber rich foods and lean proteins, as well as foods that are low in saturated fats, sugars and salts. Here are some of our suggestions on essential foods for a heart healthy diet.

Quit Smoking

Smoking has an even greater correlation to heart disease for women than it does in men. It can be very difficult to quit smoking at any age but it is never too late. Fortunately there are many resources that you can use to help you quit today. Here are a few of resources that we’ve found to help you quit.

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

Excess alcohol consumption can worsen health conditions that contribute to heart disease, like blood pressure, arrhythmias, and high cholesterol levels.

Have Regular Checkups With Your Doctor

If you have questions or concerns about heart disease or how to live a heart healthy lifestyle, seek advice from your cardiologist or primary caregiver. Your heart is the most important muscle in your body, so it is vital to take care of it!

 

 

As we begin the first week of September there are often many changes occurring around us. Children are heading back to school, the temperatures outside are getting lower, and days are becoming shorter. With these external changes occurring, one  that shouldn’t  is the amount of fruits and vegetables that we eat. It’s quite common to adopt an unhealthy diet as we begin to move ourselves indoors, but instead most of us should actually be eating more as about 90% of us are not getting the proper daily amount of vegetables.

For this reason, September is Fruit and Vegetables month as it aims to highlight the importance of a diet that is full of fruits and vegetables and the benefits they contribute to your health. Which vegetables and fruits are the most heart healthy though?

To help, we’ve shared below some of the best fruits and vegetables that you can have for a heart-healthy diet, as well as when they’re in season.

Heart Healthy Fruits and Vegetables

Berries

Berries such as strawberries and blueberries are believed to carry antioxidants that help to decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. This is attributed to the benefit of compounds known as anthocyanins, and flavonoids.

When they’re available: 

  • Strawberries: May, June, July, August, September, and October
  • Blueberries: July, August, and September
  • Cranberries:  September,  October and November
  • Raspberries: July, August, September, and  October

Potatoes

Although potatoes can be more challenging to your heart healthy dining, if you don’t deep fry them, they can be extremely good for your heart. They’re rich in potassium and high in fibre (if the skin is left on), which again, can help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

When they’re available: year round

Tomatoes

Similar to potatoes, tomatoes are high in heart-healthy potassium. Plus they’re a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may help to get rid of “bad ” cholesterol, keep blood vessels open and lower heart attack risk.

When they’re available: 

  • Greenhouse: year round
  • Field: July, August, September, and October

Broccoli, Spinach and Kale

When it comes to your heart health, you can’t go wrong with vegetables. Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach or kale can give an extra boost to your heart. These are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and can free your body of potentially harmful compounds. They’re also high in fibre and contain lots of vitamins and minerals.

When they’re available: 

  • Broccoli: June, July, August, September, and October
  • Spinach: May, June, July, August, September, and October
  • Kale: June, July, August, September, and October

Avocado

These soft, tasty fruits will provide your body and heart with plenty of healthy fats. They’re composed of monounsaturated fats, high in antioxidants, and also contain potassium to help lower heart disease factors.

When they’re available: (commercially) generally year round

Asparagus

One of the most important heart-healthy ingredients that are found in asparagus is vitamin B6. This vitamin can lower homocysteine, a form of amino acid that has been linked to heart disease.

When they’re available: May and June

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers contain folate, another nutrient that can reduce homocysteine.

When they’re available: 

  • Greenhouse: February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December
  • Field: July, August, September, and October

Carrots

Carrots are rich in carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants that can combat free radicals that cause heart disease.

When they’re available: February, March, April, May,  July, August, September, October, November, and December

Garlic

Garlic contains phytochemicals that boost immunity and protect the heart against diseases.

When they’re available: February, July, August, September, October, November, and December

Onions

Onions are a rich source of sulphur-containing phytochemicals. These phytochemicals can reduce cholesterol levels, and therefore, prevent heart disease.

When they’re available: year round

If you’re interested in learning about other heart-healthy foods, check out our post on Ten Essential Foods For A Heart-Healthy Diet; And if you’d like to know when other fruits and vegetables are available, check out Foodland Ontario’s page.

As students head back to school there is often a lot to occupy their time during the first few weeks of the semester. They’re catching up with friends, joining clubs, and beginning their studies. All of these activities are highly important while progressing through high school, but one that should be added is learning about how to save a life.

To help your child get back into learning mode, as well as learning about the proper procedures for saving a life, we recommend that they sign up to the Mikey Young At Heart App. Now is the perfect time to do so, as they won’t be overwhelmed with a course schedule, as well as the many other activities that occupy kids when they head back to school.

The app which was created to provide your child with an understanding of CPR procedures and how to use an AED, is taught through instructional videos that they can view at their own pace. Not only is the app easy to use, the hours accumulated on it also count towards their volunteer hours that they will need to earn during the semester.

The best part about the app is that you can access it anywhere, so whether your child is at home relaxing, or studying with friends; they can keep learning.

Don’t just take our word for how great the Mikey Young at Heart app is, ask our friend Kayley Baker, who this past year helped to save the life of an elderly man in downtown Toronto thanks to her training on the app.

I was walking in downtown Toronto on Labour Day Monday with my grandmother when we noticed people making a fuss. There was a man on the ground and he was blue in colour. Automatically I knew something was wrong!

My grandmother grabbed my backpack and I knelt down beside him to perform CPR. I got to just over 30 compressions and he started to make a wheezing noise. There were people standing around but nobody else knew how to properly perform CPR.

I knew CPR because I went through the Mikey Young At Heart App. Going through the videos and quizzes gave me the confidence to act immediately and without fear. I knew what to do and I knew if I did it, this man would have a better chance of survival.”

Learn more about Kayley’s story here.

Each year in Ontario, children and teens are among the 6,500 people who experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest. If administering CPR or an AED during an emergency like the one Kayley experienced, a person has a much higher chance of surviving. Sign up to the Mikey Young At Heart app today to learn how it can benefit your life and others.

When thinking of the term “exercising” we often think of team sports, or something that we can do as an individual, like running. The thought of ‘family’ doesn’t really come to mind, but often our families are where we first learned the basics of exercising. Kicking the soccer ball in the backyard, doing chores around the house, riding a bike or simply going for a walk around the block. These small activities laid the foundation for many of the exercises we continue to do throughout our lives.

Although many of us share memories of doing activities like these growing up, organizations like ParticipACTION are noticing that there is now a drop off in activity by youth. According to their study, only 9% of Canadian kids ages 5 to 11 accumulate the recommended guideline of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, at least six days a week.

Take steps now to combat this and it will be easier for you and your children to retain a heart-healthy lifestyle over each of your lives. There are many activities that you as a family can do together, and to help provide you with some ideas of fun things to do, we’re sharing 8 of our favorites.

 

Fun Exercises To Do With Your Family

Walk or a Hike

Going for a simple walk around the neighborhood can be a great activity for any age. If you’re looking for something more challenging, organizing a hike with your family can be a great way to maintain your physical fitness while seeing more of the great outdoors. Look at national parks in your area and make a day or weekend of it! Just make sure that you’re properly prepared if you do plan to go out into the wilderness.

Cycling

Families with members of all ages can definitely enjoy the benefits of cycling. The exercise can actually be better for older members of your family as it usually has less impact on the muscles and joints. Organize a bike ride around your neighborhood with your family and see the many parts of your community.

Swimming

Especially during the summer months, swimming can be a great activity for the whole family to enjoy and cool off. Many municipalities offer plenty of family time swims, as well as free swims at pools. If you’re really adventurous, take your family out for a beach day. There are a wide variety of beaches in Ontario, so get out there and explore!

Organize Family Play Times

This sounds super simple, because it is! Simply organize some fun games or sports that you can do in a park or in a backyard that will get you moving. Common games we love to play include, soccer, tag, and water fights. Want to get really creative? Invite extended family or friends from the neighborhood. They may be able to introduce your family to a new game or activity that you may not have been aware of.

Create An Activity Pack

Have some downtime with your family? Build a backpack of basic activity gear with items such as balls or other catch-and-throw objects (like a Frisbee), a jump rope, sidewalk chalk, pylons (to serve as targets or goal posts), a Dyna Band or any other equipment that suits your family’s interests. This pack will help save you on slower days.

Go To The Playground

The Playground offers endless opportunities of fun to be had. Ask your kids about fun games that they like to play with their friends during recess such as grounders, tag, hopscotch, monkey bars and 4-square. This can be difficult for some members of the family, as playgrounds aren’t really meant for adults and can be difficult to maneuver.

Yoga

Yoga is beneficial for anyone at any age. It allows you to center yourself and to stretch out many areas of your body to stay flexible and mobile. The best part is that you can do Yoga anywhere, so whether you’re at the beach, in the backyard, or at home, you’ll always have a space to do this great exercise.

If you would like more ideas on how to stay active with your family, we highly encourage you to go and check out the Participaction’s site. They have a plethora of programs and ideas to help keep you active.

 

An important part of maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle is in the diet that we keep. While the summer can bring many delicious fruits and vegetables that are only available during the warmer months of the year, it can be very easy for many of us to reach for unhealthy options like processed meats, fried foods or sugary treats. These foods can be fine in moderation, but often there are healthier options that can be just as delicious.

As we approach the upcoming August long weekend, we encourage you and your family to try some of these heart healthy foods at the cottage.

Heart Healthy Foods To Have At The Cottage

Salmon

Looking for a red meat substitute to throw on the grill? Try fresh salmon. Salmon and other oily fish like sardines, tuna, herring and mackerel are rich in omega 3, which helps to reduce blood pressure and clotting.

Avocado

Avocados are great for providing you with good fats and lots of fiber, which can help to reduce your cholesterol. The best part about avocados is that they’re very versatile! Add them to a salad, a burger, really anything that you think will go great with this delicious fruit.

Nuts (Almonds and Walnuts)

Instead of opting for a big bag of chips go to the local grocery store and opt for some nuts. Most nuts are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. We recommend getting some walnuts or almonds to snack on, as they’re not only a handy treat but also a great to have with in salads and desserts.

Asparagus

Asparagus is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients which reduces the risk of heart disease. Asparagus is great to have over the BBQ grill with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Pomegranate Juice

Not only is pomegranate juice delicious, it’s also packed with antioxidants and is antihypertensive. Have it on it’s own or add it in with some other fruit juices, seltzer or cocktails.

Recipes

Before heading up to the cottage many families tend to plan out their meals in advance. The traffic at the local stores can be overwhelming, so it can sometimes be better to avoid them for the first few days and just plan ahead. Looking for some summer heart healthy recipes that you can use this weekend? Don’t worry we have a bunch that you can use.

For more heart healthy recipes, check out the heart-healthy living section of our site.