Men Can LIVE LONGER With “Life’s Essential 8” Plan of Action

It can take a lot of work to keep up with all the trends, fads, and diets circulating lately. Every year, there’s some new story about how a celery stick a day adds 10 years to your life or how eating a spoonful of peanut butter in the morning improves heart health. Many of these fads are based on myth and don’t do much for your health.

Fortunately, The American Heart Association has laid out a simple behavioral and lifestyle roadmap for healthy living, such as getting quality sleep, managing blood pressure, and quitting smoking. Quality sleep is the most recent addition to The Essential 8, meaning it is worth a visit once again.

“Life’s Essential 8” is a simple idea. There are 8 essential health and lifestyle behaviors that impact cardiovascular health and overall well-being. You should do your best to maintain healthy habits regarding these 8 essential behaviors.

In this article, we’ll explore each of Life’s Essential 8 in detail, including tips and strategies for incorporating them into your daily routine.

What Is Life’s Essential 8?

Life’s Essential 8 are the lifestyle and behavioral choices you can make to live a longer, healthier, and happier life. These are The Essential 8:

  • Sleep Health
  • Physical Activity
  • Nicotine Exposure
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Blood Lipids
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Pressure

While it’s important to remember that your focus shouldn’t be limited to these eight factors, it’s worth noting that the Life’s Essential 8 provides a solid foundation for healthy living and disease prevention.

Importance To Your Health

The Life’s Essential 8 can help you live longer by reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. You can lower the chances of developing these conditions by managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

In addition, regular physical activity, a healthy diet, maintaining a stable weight, cutting out nicotine, and managing stress can improve overall well-being and quality of life.

A Summary Of Life’s Essential 8

According to the American Heart Association, The Essential 8 can dramatically improve heart health and overall well-being. Let’s review these behaviors and how they can improve your quality of life and potential longevity.

#1: Sleep Health

Sleep health is the most recent addition to The Essential 8 and an incredibly important factor. The recommended sleep time for everyone is as follows:

  • 7-9 hours of sleep a night for adults.
  • 8-10 hours of sleep a night for ages 13-18.
  • 9-12 hours of sleep a night for ages 6-12.
  • 10-16 hours of sleep for ages 5 and younger, including naps.

Maintaining it may seem like a lot, but your sleep quality is essential to healthy living.

How It Affects Cardiovascular Health

Numerous studies show inadequate sleep can lead to a shorter lifespan, poor health, obesity, and other health-related problems. Our bodies build strength while we sleep, so if you don’t get enough, you are not giving your body the time it needs.

How To Optimize For Better Health

Here are a couple of recommendations to improve your quality of sleep:

  • Set a regular bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet.
  • Limit screen time before bed.

You can do several other things to address sleep, so you can find what works best for you and stick to it.

#2: Diet

Unsurprisingly, diet is another crucial proponent of The Essential 8. Not only is obesity terrible for longevity, but the type of foods you consume may harm your cardiovascular health.

How It Affects Cardiovascular Health

Foods high in saturated and trans fats increase LDL (bad) cholesterol and contribute to plaque formation in the arteries. So, you can avoid these foods and improve your cardiovascular health and overall well-being.

How To Optimize For Better Health

You should adopt a wholesome dietary pattern incorporating whole foods, ample fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, nuts, and seeds. Additionally, using non-tropical oils like olive and canola oils for cooking is recommended.

#3: Physical Activity

The American Heart Association recommends that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. You should also include strength training at least twice weekly and regular flexibility exercises.

How It Affects Cardiovascular Health

Studies show that aerobic exercises can improve your health in many different areas, including cardiovascular health, obesity, lung health, and mental clarity

How To Optimize For Better Health

Here are some tips for making workouts a part of your everyday routine:

  • Create a regular workout schedule.
  • Incentivize yourself to stick to this schedule.
  • Work out with a buddy or partner.
  • Allow rest days to avoid burnout.

There are many different ways to motivate and encourage yourself. You can find which works best for you and prioritize it.

#4: Nicotine Exposure

Smoking nicotine products is harmful to the perpetrator and those around them. You should acknowledge that cigarettes and other tobacco products are dangerous and try to cut them down.

How It Affects Cardiovascular Health

The primary cause of preventable death in the United States is nicotine products, including cigarettes, vapes, and e-cigarettes. This accounts for approximately one-third of all fatalities resulting from heart disease.

How To Optimize For Better Health

Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances, so cutting back will require a lot of self-control. Here are some tips to reduce harm and second-hand smoke.

  • Don’t smoke in the first place.
  • Don’t smoke around family or loved ones.
  • Take action to cut down on cigarettes and nicotine products today.

There is no easy answer, but the important thing is that you put yourself and your health first.

#5: Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. BMI is not the end-all-be-all of weight management, but it can be a valuable tool to manage a healthy weight. An optimal BMI is 25.

How It Affects Cardiovascular Health

A high BMI typically means a higher amount of body fat, which can lead to the accumulation of fat in the arteries. Fat accumulation then causes the arteries to narrow and harden, making blood flow more challenging. This is how a high BMI is connected to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.

How To Optimize For Better Health

Here are a few tips for balancing an appropriate BMI over the years:

  • Eat properly and exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your age and height.
  • Monitor your BMI with your doctor or with an online tool when possible.

The most important thing is to keep a healthy body and mind and ensure your BMI is where it should be.

#6: Monitor Cholesterol

You should regularly monitor cholesterol levels. Healthcare professionals often prefer monitoring non-HDL (or “bad” cholesterol) levels over total cholesterol levels, as it can be accurately measured in all individuals and does not require fasting before the test.

How It Affects Cardiovascular Health

Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in your blood and can build up if it is too high. Elevated levels of non-HDL have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

How To Optimize For Better Health

Keep your cholesterol levels in check by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products, and taking any medication if prescribed by your physician.

#7: Blood Glucose

Carbohydrates and sugars in your food and drinks turn into glucose (sugar) in the digestive system and the stomach. You can track your blood glucose levels with your healthcare provider.

How It Affects Cardiovascular Health

High blood glucose levels can happen when the body becomes resistant to insulin and can’t use it effectively. The pancreas might also lose its ability to produce insulin. This causes blood glucose levels to rise to an unhealthy level.

Studies show high blood glucose levels damage blood vessels and nerve control and higher risk of heart disease.

How To Optimize For Better Health

You should eat a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. You should also avoid foods that might spike your blood sugar level, like processed foods and refined sugar.

#8: Blood Pressure

Optimal blood pressure levels are below 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is classified as having a systolic pressure (the top number in the reading) of 130-139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure (the bottom number) of 80-89 mm Hg.

How It Affects Cardiovascular Health

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps. High blood pressure can cause damage to the arteries and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

How To Optimize For Better Health

Here are the most common approaches to lowering blood pressure for improved cardiovascular health:

  • Reduce stress.
  • Eat less salt.
  • Drink less alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take medication if prescribed.

Life’s Essential 8: An Evidence-Based Approach To A Longer Life

There we have it, men. The American Heart Associated has mapped out Life’s Essential 8 for us. The goal is to follow each step for a longer, happier life. We can only do our best, and our best should include these simple lifestyle and behavioral actions to support our bodies and minds.

About Eric Barnett

Avatar photoEric is a personal trainer and avid outdoor enthusiast who strives to always be on the forefront of health innovation. A father of two who recognized early on that as he aged, he needed to keep his body and nutrition in check to keep living life to the fullest.

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