NEW YORK — At 66, Dr Hugh Calkins, a cardiology professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine, knows how important a healthy lifestyle is for heart health. Here are six things he does to keep his heart in shape.
HE EXERCISES. Regular exercise strengthens the heart muscle, which helps the organ pump blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.
Dr Calkins swims for 45 minutes, five days a week, and uses the elliptical for 30 minutes, three days a week. He also takes his dog on a two-mile walk each day.
Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, and two days of muscle-strengthening activity, every week.
HE PRIORITISES SLEEP. Dr. Calkins ensures he gets at least seven hours of sleep each night. Insufficient sleep is linked with high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
HE SAYS ‘NO’ TO CIGARETTES, ‘SOMETIMES’ TO ALCOHOL AND ‘YES’ TO CAFFEINE. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol is not good for the heart, so he limits his intake to one to three drinks per week.
Some people think caffeine is bad for the heart, but no research has proved that.
HE KEEPS TABS ON HIS BLOOD PRESSURE. Dr Calkins checks his blood pressure once a month. If it starts trending above normal levels, he said, it may be a sign to make some lifestyle changes.
People generally do not need to monitor their blood pressure like this, but doing so can help you get ahead of any potential heart problems.
HE USES AN APP TO TRACK HIS FOOD. Calorie counting is not useful or even recommended for everyone, he said. But he likes to track what and how much he’s eating to ensure he’s following a balanced diet.
He avoids consuming more than 2,000 calories a day to prevent weight gain, which can increase the risk of heart problems.
HE TAKES THE MEDICATIONS HE NEEDS. There are some heart health issues you cannot manage through lifestyle changes alone. That includes high cholesterol.
To drive down his high cholesterol, Dr Calkins takes statin medications. He encourages others who struggle to consult with their doctors about what medications are right for them.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.