5 Tips to Keep Your Heart in Beating Order
Valentine’s Day is a time where we show love to those we cherish most. Whether it’s a sweet note, a heart-shaped box of chocolates, or sparkling jewelry, the gifts of the holiday are manifold. It’s certainly important to take time to show your admiration for your loved ones—but your physical heart may be pining for something healthy. Here are five tips to take to heart to support your cardiovascular health.
Eat heart healthy foods
The foods you eat affect your entire body’s health, and it’s important to be mindful of the health benefits of the food you consume, however, you may not realize how directly your heart’s health is affected by food choice.
An unhealthy diet increases your risk for cardiovascular diseases and other harmful conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, and diabetes.
According to the American Heart Association, the following foods and practices are ideal for hearth health:
- Include a wide variety of vegetables and fruits
- Limit sugar and salt
- Choose whole grains instead of highly refined or white grains
- Get protein from plant sources such as legumes, nuts, and seeds, whenever possible
- If including animal products in the diet, try to choose:
- fish and seafood
- lean meats
- low fat or fat-free dairy
- Cook with liquid non-tropical plant oils, such as olive oil
- Limit highly processed foods
- If including alcohol in the diet, try to do so in moderation
For a healthy heart, it’s necessary to move more and sit less. Research has shown that an increase in a sedentary lifestyle, sitting for hours on end, is extremely harmful to your health. The effects of prolonged sedentary time, much like the effects of prolonged use of tobacco products, cannot be reversed by exercise. The adverse effects include chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and many back and neck problems. To begin combatting the effects of sedentary time, it is vital to incorporate changes into your daily routine.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week. They also recommend incorporating muscle-strengthening activities, like weights or body weight resistance, at least 2 days per week—increasing your amount and intensity of workouts gradually over time.
Here are a few moderate and vigorous exercises you can try:
- Brisk walking
- Water aerobics
- Jumping rope
Here are some ways to stay physically active throughout the day:
- Alternate between a sitting and standing desk
- Take the stairs
- Have a walking meeting
- Start a stretch routine
- Set reminders on your phone every half hour to get up and get active
Manage your stress
Everyone gets stressed from time to time, and what causes stress for one person may not cause stress for another. We all know that mental and physical health are linked, and this includes your heart health.
Stress can contribute to an unhealthy heart in many ways, including poor health behaviors and harmful body responses like:
- Stopping taking prescribed medications
- Eating unhealthy foods
- Lack of physical activity
- Irregular heart rate and rhythm
- Increased blood pressure
- Reduced blood flow to the heart
Stress management and caring for your mental health is necessary for whole-body health and well-being.
When you’re feeling stressed, try some of these helpful tips:
- Meditation or yoga
- Breathing exercises
- Spending time with loved ones
- Exercise regularly
- Find a stimulating hobby
- Get enough quality sleep
- Practice some self-care techniques
Talk to your provider about your mental health and ways you can manage stress.
Quitting smoking and use of tobacco is one of the most important health decisions a person can make to improve their health. When you quit, your overall health status improves, your life expectancy increases, it reduces the risk for adverse health effects and conditions, and it benefits those already diagnosed with heart disease or COPD.
Talk to your provider about your options for smoking cessation and tobacco use cessation treatments.
Schedule regular health screenings
Getting regular health screenings helps you stay on top of your health status and gives you peace of mind when it comes to your well-being. Many screenings include simple, quick tests that evaluate your heart health, identifying risk factors and reviewing family history.
Preventive care keeps you aware of your overall health. Schedule a health screening with your provider today.
We encourage you to incorporate these heart health tips into your daily routine. Talk to your provider to learn more.