As an athlete, you likely focus on injury prevention and performance enhancement. But you also need to take care of your heart health. For example, many athletes with inherited heart problems or genetic diseases are at higher risk for dangerous irregular heart rhythms like ventricular fibrillation that can lead to cardiac arrest. Cardiologists traditionally advised against athletics for patients with these conditions.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
A healthy weight can help you avoid many diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol problems. Losing as little as 5-10% of your body weight can lower your risk for these conditions and improve your health. As mentioned in Dr. Jason Campbell Medium’s account, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can also help you reduce your chances of developing heart conditions. Being overweight or obese raises your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers. You can reduce your risk by eating a diet with many fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Limiting sodium (salt) and replacing saturated fats with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and flaxseed, can also help protect your heart.
Get Enough Sleep
One of the most important things athletes can do to avoid developing heart conditions is to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to several health issues, including high blood pressure and obesity. Research shows that college athletes often get less than eight hours of sleep a night, which can significantly impact their performance. Getting enough sleep can help athletes prepare mentally and physically for competitions. It allows the body to recover after physical activity and improves memory, learning, and reaction time. Athletes can also get a boost from short-term naps in the middle of the day. It’s beneficial for those who travel and find it hard to fall asleep at night.
Eating a well-balanced diet is the most effective way to stay healthy and reduce your risk of developing heart conditions. A balanced diet provides the body with all the nutrients it needs to function at its best. It safeguards the body against noncommunicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The diet should be low in saturated fats, high in fiber, and low in sodium. This will help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which is essential for preventing heart conditions. Eating about the same calories as your body requires and eating various foods from the five food groups would be best.
There are plenty of benefits to regular exercise. It can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your cholesterol levels and control your blood pressure. It can also help you stay healthy and prevent bone loss, osteoporosis, and arthritis. In addition, it can improve your balance and coordination. It can also reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. And it can help you build resilience to deal with life’s challenges.
Smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease. It causes plaque build-up in your arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart. It can also make your heart work harder and increase your risk of blood clots. In addition, it can cause you to get sick more often with colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. It can also make you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed. You can avoid developing heart conditions and improve your health by avoiding smoking altogether. Quitting smoking immediately lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke.