Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke in Less Than an Hour a Week


Want to reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke? You should. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and claims the lives of an estimated 635,000 people a year. Stroke isn’t far behind, linked to 142,000 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Is there anything you can do about it? Cutting out high-sodium and fatty foods is a good place to start. Too much sodium in your diet (fast food, preservatives, extra salt), can increase blood pressure and damage the heart. Poor food choices can also increase cholesterol levels and cause atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries. And when that happens, the risk for a heart attack or stroke goes up.

But besides following a Low-Sodium diet, is there anything else you can do to prevent a heart attack or stroke? Yes. And it takes less than an hour a week.

Lift weights. In a new study published in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, researchers found that less than an hour a week of weight lifting or strength training can cut your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent.

Can you find a spare 5 to 10 minutes a day to get stronger? It’s as simple as doing a couple sets of bench press exercises, squats, deadlifts or push-ups.

You don’t have to train like a bodybuilder. Just a few minutes of resistance exercise per day can make a big difference. Weight lifting for cardiovascular health helps strengthen the heart, lungs, and muscles, improves metabolism, and increases mobility.

If you’re going to add strength training to your exercise routine, add a little more protein to your diet, too. Your body uses protein to repair muscle damage and build new muscle. Foods high in protein include eggs, beef, poultry, and fish. Check out the Low-Sodium menu and pick your favorites.