There’s something special about entering your 30s. You’re still young but it’s when you’re officially transitioning into the “real” world of adulthood. It’s an exciting time to embrace — one where you still enjoy a lot of the same things you would do in your earlier days, but you also feel a sense of maturity setting in by taking on more responsibility as you go on to live a more independent life.
In terms of health, it’s time to consciously define some healthy habits in your 30s to ensure you are fit as a fiddle as you march into the future. Your body starts showing signs of change. External lifestyle factors such as stress, smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise play a role in the development of cardiovascular problems. As responsibilities increase in our 30s, so does the impact of these lifestyle factors, given that people tend to turn to unhealthy habits as coping mechanisms. Since these factors can directly impact your heart, you build healthy habits in your 30s to lay the foundation for a healthy heart, and therefore, a healthier future.
We recommend a few heart health tips you can take early on and keep heart healthy and strong to prevent the risk of heart problems as we grow older. Let us look at some ways to keep our hearts healthy as we age.
Heart Health Tips to follow in your 30s
As you hit your 30s, you need to be more proactive with your fitness because of changing body compositions that affect a person later in life — as you age, muscle is replaced by fat over time, which can affect health. Fitting within the right weight bracket does not translate to being physically fit as measuring your weight doesn’t take your muscle-to-fat ratio into consideration. It is vital to keep the fat percentage in your body within the recommended limits to keep heart healthy. As Indians, we tend to include more carbohydrates in our meals, and hence there are chances that our BMI or Body Mass Index is not ideal. Simply put, BMI screens for nutritional status basis height and weight categorizing into underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese. A BMI within 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy. Moreover, if your days are spent most of the time in the office with little to no time for any physical activity, you might be leading a sedentary lifestyle that is not doing your heart health any good.
Recent studies have indicated that even light to moderate activity may provide substantial protection against cardiovascular diseases. High blood pressure is a common heart-related issue that affects a large segment of people. Blood pressure is the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of blood vessels. This affects the proper functioning of all the systems in the body and causes excessive stress on the arterial wall resulting in cardiovascular problems.
Exercise can help reduce blood pressure and also prevent it from increasing at a later stage in life. The best way how to keep heart healthy and strong is to devote at least 30 minutes daily to cardio (also known as aerobic exercise). You can consider brisk walking, running, aerobics, swimming, or dancing.
Your 30s are a time when stress becomes almost a natural part of your life. You are worried about your next promotion and salary hike, the admission of your child to a reputable school, and other life pressures that you have to keep up with. Moreover, life in cities can come with its own set of stressors like living in nuclear setups and managing everything single-handedly.
Stress increases the amount of the hormone cortisol your body produces. Studies show that long-term stress and releasing this hormone can increase your blood cholesterol. Stress can also increase the chances of stroke.
To manage stress, it is also essential to look after your emotional and mental health. Similar to how exercise is important for your body, meditation can prove to be a highly effective way to improve your mental health.
Another way to look after mental health is to try and build a strong support system that can give you strength during tough times. If you have depression or anxiety, it is advisable to seek counselling and medical help. Research has shown that such mental problems can increase the chances of heart disease.
Additionally, sleep is an important factor to keep in mind. Maintaining a daily bedtime and wake-up time along with 7-8 hours of sleep can also help you reduce stress.
Your diet plays a crucial role in keeping your heart healthy. It is also the one thing that you can easily control with small tweaks here and there. It’s best to start taking care of your heart in your 30s even if you may not have paid much attention to your diet in your 20s.
The kind of food you eat can positively or negatively impact your health and hence, an informed decision when selecting foods is necessary. A good way to start is to read up on foods that you can add to your diet for better heart health. Another factor is to consider the oil in which you cook your food since it is a key ingredient in every meal. It is recommended to include more heart-healthy oils which have a good MUFA: PUFA balance and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and completely avoid trans-fat in your diet. Trans fat refers to oils that have hydrogen added to give them a longer shelf life. They are not good for the heart as they can increase bad cholesterol and hence, it is important to read nutritional labels to understand the percentage of trans fat in food items. There are many oils available in the market and blended oils can be a good and convenient option. Blended oils have the goodness of two oils in one oil, a classic example of blended oil is Saffola Gold provides a good balance of MUFA: PUFA. Apart from this, make sure that you include recommended amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your diet.
Limit Sugar and Salt
As you begin to make your food choices almost independently for yourself and your family in your 30s, you should also be aware of how two of the most common ingredients affect your heart health. Many beverages and snacks are much higher in sugar and salt than you might think. While too much salt can increase your blood pressure, studies also show that too much sugar can increase your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is alright to indulge occasionally but it is advisable to pay attention to your consumption.
In a world where cardiovascular disorders are becoming more and more common, the solution on how to keep heart healthy and strong lies within you. Your thirties are the time when you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work from your 20s. It is also the time when many settle and are at a stage in their life where they begin many new chapters of their lives personally and professionally. Making these lifestyle changes in your 30s will set the base for a hearty and long life.
Remember, it’s always best to start early and inculcate these healthy habits in your 30s so you can make every moment count as you set foot into achieving new milestones. For more heart health tips, read our blog on 5 Habits You Can Start Today for a Healthier Heart.