Our heart is undoubtedly the most important muscle in our body, beating an average of 100,000 times per day. The heart provides essential blood flow, sending oxygen and nutrients and removing toxins from the body, brain and muscles. By understanding the lifestyle choice that affect this necessary organ, we can keep our heart healthy and strong. We recommend you embrace the following heart healthy habits:
- Exercise daily. As long as there are no health restrictions preventing exercise, everyone should attempt to exercise every day. Whether you’re best suited for walking or want to take it up a notch in a more strenuous activity, movement should be ten minutes to 40 minutes a day.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. There is supporting evidence that Europeans who eat a strictly Mediterranean diet have low incidences of heart disease. Eating healthily isn’t difficult, and just requires a little perseverance. By embracing a diet with lean meats and dark green vegetables in every meal, replacing vegetable oil with olive oil, and by avoiding processed carbohydrates and too much dairy, you’ll take a big step in providing the nutrition the heart needs.
- Reduce stress. While stress is a part of life, it is not the stress itself that is hazardous to our heart, but how we respond to it. If we are stressed out, our body produces too much adrenaline, which can tax the heart. Find ways to reduce how you react to stress to maintain heart health. Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and exercise can reduce the damaging effects of stress. If you need to talk to someone, reach out to a friend or professional.
- Avoid smoking and other tobacco products. Smoking affects almost every part of your body. Smoking increases blood pressure, and toxins found in cigarettes can impair your heart and reduce its functioning. Smoking develops the threat of arteriosclerosis, which is a disease where plaque develops in the arteries. Plaque restricts the blood stream to vital tissues, and buildup eventually can cause heart attacks, heart failure and death. By avoiding all smoking, the heart can remain healthier, longer.
- Get plenty of rest. Since the heart’s only “down” time is between beats, relaxing the rest of the body is beneficial to maintaining its health. When we sleep, our brains rest, and our heart rate and blood pressure go down. By allowing this to occur, this gives the heart an opportunity to work less hard. Plus, getting adequate sleep is another method to reduce stress.
- Use technology to help. There are many new devices and phone apps that can count foot steps, monitor the heart rate, display sleep patterns and more to encourage heart healthy habits.
Whether a person is recovering from heart issues, lives with a chronic condition or is interested in thwarting significant future cardiovascular decline, these six tips encourage adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle for the long term.