To lead a long, healthy and happy life it’s important to keep your heart in good condition. Recent analysis from Public Health England (PHE) found that one in 10 men aged 50 have a heart age that’s 10 years older than their actual age. The analysis also found that many of the deaths caused by heart attacks or strokes could have been prevented. So, it would seem that the key may lie in having a youthful heart.

So what can you do to keep your heart youthful and healthy? There are a number of simple choices you can make to keep your heart in good condition and help protect yourself from heart problems in the future.

How To Maintain A Youthful Heart

Get active

Getting enough exercise is the first step to maintaining a youthful heart. Like all muscles, the heart strengthens as a result of exercise, which means it can pump more blood through the body and work at maximum level with less strain. The NHS suggests you do 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Running, swimming or even just climbing stairs can increase your energy, lower your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.

Eat healthy

Eating a balanced diet full of fruit and vegetables can help reduce your risk of heart disease later in life. A diet high in saturated fat and salt is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure and cholesterol, so reduce the amount of fatty meat, butter and cheese you eat. Instead, pick fibre-rich food like wholemeal bread and oats, and try to eat fish twice a week. Oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel are full of heart-helping omega 3 fats, which can help protect against heart disease.

Don’t smoke

It’s common knowledge that smoking is bad for you, but smoking is said to be the biggest factor in increasing your risk of heart disease. The nicotine in cigarette smoke raises your blood pressure and heart rate and narrows your arteries, putting stress on your heart. According to the British Heart Foundation, smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack than someone who has never smoked.

Sleep

Getting more sleep is certainly one of the easier lifestyle choices to adopt – who doesn’t wish they could sleep in more? A good night’s sleep can help to keep your heart feeling youthful, as it gives your body time to relax and rest after the day.

Relax!

Constant stress from work or your personal life can have long term physical effects on your body. Stress has been linked to insomnia, a lack of appetite and even heart disease. It can also cause you to act in ways that can increase your risk of heart disease, such as increased alcohol intake or smoking. For a youthful heart, make sure you take time in your day to relax and unwind. Watching a funny movie, taking a warm bath or meditating are all great ways to help your heart.

Know how to act

If you start feeling chest pain, it’s important to know how to act. Causes of chest pain can be relatively common conditions like anxiety or acid reflux, but it’s always a good idea to seek medical advice for a proper diagnosis. If you experience sudden and severe pain, call 999 for an ambulance, especially if the pain feels heavy, it spreads to other parts of your body or you experience additional symptoms like breathlessness or nausea. If the pain is only minor, visit your GP for analysis or call the NHS 111 service.

Small changes to your lifestyle can make the world of difference to your health and happiness in future years. Look after yourself and you’ll feel young at heart.