Your heart is at the center of everything you are and everything you do. Keeping it healthy is critical to being healthy and living a long, disease-free life. It’s not always easy breaking habits such as unhealthy eating, laziness, smoking, or poor hygiene, but putting in the hard work now could help you later.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you have been seriously affected by poor heart health—from experiences with arrhythmia to a sudden flatline due to cardiac arrest—this list of ways to improve your heart health can help you get back on track in combination with advice from your doctor.
Having a medical emergency is not the only reason to make better choices for your heart and overall health. Nor is it ever too late to help someone else improve their lifestyle to achieve better health. You might be able to encourage someone you love, a family member, or a friend to make better choices.
You don’t have to be enrolled in life support training to save a life. Help lengthen your own, and those of the people you care about by taking a look through some of these different ways to improve heart health.
No matter your weight or size, moving your body is a good way to help your heart health. This can be as simple as going on a 15 minute walk a day, dancing around your house while cleaning, heading to the gym, or taking a few minutes here and there to stretch your limbs.
Lethargy and sitting for long periods of time have actually been linked to shortening your lifespan. If you spend a lot of time sitting down because of work, remember to take breaks to move around. You can even take a walk on your lunch break. Every little bit counts. (1)
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and in this case, it’s absolutely true! Eating a piece of fruit a day, or replacing chips and sugary snacks with a handful of nuts can be extremely beneficial for your overall health.
Eating well is not only about the kinds of food you eat, but the portions you eat as well. You should consider things such as how much salt, sugar, and how many calories you’re consuming. This can also be monitored by knowing how much you are taking in as well as the foods that you’re eating.
Cut back on high calorie drinks
Often people don’t take their liquid calorie intake into consideration. From juices to sweet alcoholic beverages and sodas, we consume many more calories than we think during our day.
Simply by cutting out one sugar-sweetened soda or calorie-filled latte, you can easily save yourself more than 100 calories per day. This can translate to a 10-pound weight loss over a whole year. (2)
Deep and purposeful breathing can help you relax and possibly lower your blood pressure. If you’re pressed for time, you can try slow breathing for a few minutes each day, but if not, the best way to not only focus your breathing but help cultivate a routine is by taking part in yoga or meditation.
These two practices are mainly focused on breathing, clearing your mind, and in the case of yoga, moving and strengthening your body. Here you can both practice deep breathing and move your body too.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands and practicing good hygiene habits can help prevent viral or bacterial infections. Infections such as pneumonia and the flu can be very hard on the heart. These infections can also leave you open to heart infections, especially if you have an existing underlying heart condition. (3)
As you can probably tell, there are a lot of steps you can take to help protect your heart health, avoiding tobacco, however, is a big one that shouldn’t be ignored. You can eat well, exercise regularly, and practice great hygiene, but if you smoke you are still at high risk for heart disease.
Smoking is actually one of the top controllable risk factors for heart disease. This bad habit can do harm to almost every organ in the body. This includes the lungs, mouth, reproductive organs, bladder, blood vessels, and heart. (4)
Replacing red meat with fish is highly recommended as fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help protect against heart disease. Fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines are especially rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends trying to eat fish at least twice a week. (5)
Make time for breakfast
It truly is the most important meal of the day. Consistently eating a nutritious meal for breakfast every morning can help you maintain a healthy diet. You can build meals that are heart-healthy too by including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains such as oatmeal or whole-grain cereals
- Low-fat dairy products
- Lean protein such as nuts, a small amount of peanut butter, or meats such as turkey bacon.
Happiness might just be the key to a long and healthy life.
Chronic stress, anger, and anxiety are all huge factors in heart issues, particularly if you have underlying health problems. This is why it’s very important to learn to manage your daily stresses by practicing mindfulness, partaking in calming activities, and finding inner peace.
There have even been studies conducted to find the correlation between happiness and good heart health. One particular study followed over 6,000 women and men aged between 25-74 for 20 years, up until 2007. This study found that happy emotions such as enthusiasm and hopefulness appeared to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. (6)
Find your balance
There are many ways you can ward off heart disease and keep your heart health and overall health under control. Always consult your doctor before making any serious decisions that impact your mind or body health. It’s never too early or late to start making better choices to strengthen your heart health.
- “Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality Risk in 222 497 Australian Adults,” Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1108810
- “10 Small Steps for Better Heart Health,” Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/10-small-steps-for-better-heart-health
- “Heart disease – Diagnosis and treatment,” Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353124
- “Smoking and Your Heart,” Source: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/smoking-and-your-heart
- “Eating fish twice a week reduces heart stroke risk,” Source: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/05/25/eating-fish-twice-a-week-reduces-heart-stroke-risk
- “Happiness & health,” Source: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/happiness-stress-heart-disease/