A stroke is a serious matter, and so is taking care of your body to prevent one. But if you’re someone who has formed bad habits through the years, it can be very difficult to ease your body into a healthier lifestyle. At some point, you’ve probably strayed from the healthier path you once put yourself on. But actually, there are some very easy ways to reduce your stroke risk. It’s just a matter of incorporating small, every day changes into your life — and sticking with them. Here are some simple ways to keep yourself healthy and avoid a stroke.
Talk to your doctor about other ways to reduce your stroke risk. | Seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images
1. Walk for 35 minutes each day
Exercise is extremely important in order to prevent a stroke. Exercise works your heart, burns calories, and keeps your body in good physical shape — all of which are needed to live a long, healthy life. A new study found that those who walk just 35 minutes each day greatly reduce their risk of suffering a severe stroke. It might seem like you have no time to fit in a walk each morning, but try waking up earlier to get some exercise in before work. Or, walk for 20 minutes in the morning, then spend a few minutes during your lunch break walking, too. It’s a great way to relax your mind and get ready to take on your day (or the remainder of your work load).
2. Add a fruit and vegetable to every meal
A healthy diet also plays a major role in stroke risk, but if you’ve never eaten much healthy food before, it’s not easy to completely change your ways. Start by adding either a fruit or vegetable to every meal. Add mushrooms or spinach to an omelet, pair an apple with your lunch, or add asparagus as a dinner side. Bring a bag of carrots and ranch dressing to snack on during the day, too. It’s easy to incorporate fruits and veggies to help wean off of the unhealthy foods you’ve been eating and switch to a permanently healthier diet.
3. Cut out fast food
Once you’ve gotten into the routine of adding fruits and veggies to your diet, it’s time to get the other parts of your eating habits under control. If you typically go out to eat several times per week or stop at your local fast food spot when you’re in a hurry, don’t. Stick to going out only once per week (because everyone needs a cheat meal). If you think you’ll have a busy work day tomorrow and won’t be able to grab lunch or dinner, make the meals ahead of time. They’ll be healthier, and all you’ll need to do is heat them up.
4. Stick to one drink per day
It’s okay to enjoy one drink per day. (For optimal heart health, enjoy one glass of red wine per day.) But the important thing is to stick to just one. If you don’t typically drink during the week but like to have a few drinks on a Friday or Saturday night, that’s fine, too. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that women consume no more than three drinks in one day (and no more than seven per week) and men consume no more than four drinks in one day (and no more than 14 per week). Watching your alcohol intake improves your overall health, and drinking a glass of red wine each night is good for your heart.
5. Reduce your daily stress
There’s no question that life is stressful. But stress can negatively impact heart health, so it’s important to keep those stress levels regularly low. Yes, you will find yourself in stressful situations every now and then, and you might not be able to control them. But day to day, you should be able to keep stress at a very manageable level. Take 10 minutes every morning to relax and meditate. It will help you take on your day with an open mind. If your stress levels are through the roof, consider talking with a therapist to help get them under control.
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