You may already know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., but did you know that an unhealthy heart can also cause disability, greatly reducing quality of life for sufferers? Here you’ll find five simple tips for ways to improve heart health – your body will thank you for it!
5 ways to improve your heart health
1. Quit smoking
The single biggest change you can make for a healthy heart if you are a smoker is to quit smoking. Smoking increases your heart pressure, putting unnecessary strain on your heart, and increases your risk of blood clots. The good news is that within a year of binning the tobacco, an ex-smoker’s risk of heart disease is cut in half – all the motivation you need to quit, today.
2. Keep stress in check
Stress is another significant factor in heart disease. Meditation, yoga and mindfulness will help you slow down and keep perspective, which in turn will improve your heart health by helping you to avoid physical manifestations of stress such as adrenaline surges and high blood pressure. You can lower stress levels by taking care of your social well-being too: make laughter and cuddles with friends and family a priority.
3. Healthy diet
Diet has a key role to play in looking after your heart. A low-fat diet rich in fruit and vegetables will provide lots of the antioxidants your heart needs for healthy functioning. Healthy Omega fats found in oily fish and some nuts have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce your risk of obstructed arteries. Limit alcohol intake and avoid regular consumption of highly processed foods, that contain way too much salt and unhealthy trans fats (check in the ingredients for the terms ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’).
4. Get moving
We all know that exercise is good for our bodies. The heart is a muscle and needs to be conditioned like any other. Building daily opportunities for extra movement into your routine is key for optimal heart health – the more active the better! Even housework and carrying the shopping bags can contribute as part of an active lifestyle.
5. Sleep well (but not too much)
Sleep is vital for keeping the body’s regulatory systems on an even keel. Less than five hours and a notable drop in function occurs. More than nine, and the same thing happens. But it’s not just about quantity. Keep to a regular sleep routine – avoiding screens and heavy meals too close to bedtime – for a happy heart!