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improving heart health
February 8, 2021

Tips for Improving Your Heart Health

You might not think much about it in your daily life, but your heart is working for you all day, every day, whether you’re active or at rest. Your beating heart plays a pivotal role in keeping you healthy, circulating blood to all your other organs and muscles. In observation of American Heart Month, what are some of the top steps you can take to prevent heart disease and maintain your cardiovascular health?

1. Exercise More

Humans evolved to live active lifestyles, but now, most of us are sedentary for much of the day. Unless you have a physically demanding job, you’ll need to make time for daily workouts. Regular exercise is crucial if you want to maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, reduce stress, strengthen your musculoskeletal system and live longer. 

If you aren’t already exercising regularly, start with small, attainable goals to increase your fitness level. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, most healthy adults need 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity spread throughout the week. However, even short bursts of exercise are better than not moving at all. For example, instead of fast-forwarding through the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show, use the time to do crunches, lunges, squats or jumping jacks. 

2. Eat a Balanced Diet

Your nutrition also plays a crucial role in improving your heart health. When grocery shopping, fill your cart with minimally processed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products and whole grains. Ample scientific evidence points to the benefits of eating a mostly plant-based diet for better overall health and well-being, so for a robust cardiovascular system, load your plate with produce. You can begin by eating one extra veggie or piece of fruit per day.

3. Decrease Your Stress Levels

Some amount of stress is unavoidable, and occasionally, stress can even be good for you. However, when you chronically feel anxious and threatened, it takes a toll on your body in a host of ways. Some adverse side effects of stress include insomnia, high blood pressure, increased heart disease risk, inflammation and self-medicating with substance misuse. 

You can take steps to get stress under control by changing your lifestyle. Exercise is a natural stress-buster, as are time-tested techniques like yoga, meditation and controlled breathing. Make self-care part of your heart health routine, and you might be surprised by how much better you feel.

4. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

Taking a moment each day to count your blessings can help improve your heart health by changing your outlook on life. Instead of dwelling on negativity, make thankfulness a habit by writing in a gratitude journal, either on your phone or as a physical copy. You can keep it on your bedside table to remind you to write in it every morning or before you go to sleep at night. Doing so will strengthen your positive attitude and help you feel more emotionally balanced.

5. Wash Your Hands Often

These days, most of us are more aware of the need to maintain a regular hand-washing habit. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, including scrubbing between your fingers and under your fingernails, is one of the best ways to stay healthy and prevent illnesses that can damage your heart, like pneumonia and COVID-19.

6. Drink Plenty of Water

You’ve probably heard the advice that you need to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day to stay healthy and support your bodily functions, especially your heart health. However, your hydration needs might be different from that, based on factors such as your weight, age and activity level. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, you can download a smartphone app to remind you.  

Take Smart Steps to Improve Your Heart Health

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