Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in the United States, and it’s important to know the warning signs and risk factors so you can work with your doctor to prevent them if possible. Luckily, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help keep your heart healthy, such as eating nutritious foods, exercising, staying away from tobacco products, and making sure your blood pressure remains in check year-round. Here are 10 easy ways to keep your heart healthy so you don’t have to worry about heart disease or stroke in the future.
1) Ditch cigarettes
An estimated 45.5 million Americans smoke, but only 14% of them are trying to quit. There are a number of reasons why: The habit is notoriously hard to break; doctors and counsellors aren’t trained in how to help people quit; and—perhaps most importantly—nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, gums, and pills can be expensive or inconvenient. If you need the motivation to kick your cigarette habit for good, remember that smoking causes one out of every three deaths in America each year. To keep your heart strong, keep it healthy by kicking cigarettes for good.
2) Practice stress management
Stress is one of America’s biggest health concerns and by far, one of our most overlooked. Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer; however, it can be managed with a few simple lifestyle changes. According to American Heart Association studies on stress management, practising stress management techniques such as regular exercise and daily meditation can do wonders for keeping your heart strong and healthy!
3) Eat foods high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids
Eating a balanced diet is an important factor in keeping your heart healthy. Focus on leafy greens, berries, green tea, salmon, nuts, whole grains and other foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels. Make sure you eat fish such as salmon twice a week or take omega-3 supplements if you don’t eat fish regularly. All of these foods will keep your heart strong and protect it from disease.
4) Exercise at least 30 minutes daily
Exercise has a profound impact on our cardiovascular health. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily, which includes any sustained movement that elevates your heart rate. Exercising regularly helps keep our hearts strong and lowers our risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and other preventable diseases. So if you want to keep your heart healthy, start moving!
5) Manage blood pressure
The easiest and most effective way to keep your blood pressure in check is simply by managing it. This means following a healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise, a nutritious diet and adequate sleep. If you have high blood pressure, talk with your doctor about creating a plan of action for keeping it under control.
Perhaps try using relaxing yoga or meditation techniques, or focus on improving sleep habits if lack of sleep is contributing to hypertension. The important thing is taking steps towards management; with some effort and persistence, you can absolutely keep your heart strong and keep the heart healthy for years to come.
6) Don’t drink too much alcohol
Alcohol is full of empty calories. More importantly, it increases your risk for a host of cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure and increased cholesterol. For example, if you drink four beers a night at 7 percent alcohol content (the typical beer sold in America), you’re consuming nearly 500 calories that go directly to your liver. Those calories turn into fatty deposits in less than 24 hours after drinking.
If you’re trying to keep your heart healthy, it’s best to stay away from booze altogether or at least limit how much you drink. A moderate intake of 1–2 drinks per day is fine for most people. Just stick with wine, beer and liquor—mixers are loaded with sugar!
7) Don’t sit for too long at one time
Sitting for too long at one time (even if you exercise regularly) puts a lot of stress on your heart. In fact, it’s a big risk factor for high blood pressure and diabetes. The solution? Get up and move around every hour—even if it’s just going to grab a glass of water from across the room.
8) Manage weight/eat right
Sleep is a critical component of health and can be an effective way to keep your heart healthy. Not only does it give our body time to recover from stress, but sleeping for six or more hours each night helps keep our stress levels low. It also promotes hormone production, which regulates blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar. And speaking of keeping stress levels down…
9) Stay away from trans fats
A major contributor to cardiovascular disease, trans fats is known for increasing bad cholesterol and decreasing good cholesterol. Trans fats also contribute to inflammation of blood vessels, a common symptom of poor circulation and cardiovascular problems. When in doubt, check labels or ask a nutritionist if you can’t tell whether or not a food contains trans fats.
You should avoid them at all costs because even small amounts can pack on some pounds in a hurry. To keep your heart healthy, it’s best not only to eat fewer trans fats but also minimize saturated fats (they’re high in animal products like red meat) and excess carbs (they put unnecessary strain on your system). The first tip is especially important—without it, you’ll set yourself up for failure.
10) Get plenty of sleep
Getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night is one of the most effective things you can do for your body. Your body does many repairs during sleep, and a good night’s rest has been linked with everything from reduced blood pressure to slower ageing.
When you’re well-rested, you’ll think clearer and work better—and it will be easier for you to stay positive in general! Studies show that getting less than six hours per night puts us at increased risk for disease and premature death. Make sure you get plenty of sleep so that your body and mind can stay healthy longer.