Did you know that half of all Americans having at least one risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high triglycerides or high cholesterol? You can’t control your genetics but you can control your external risk factors. A sedentary lifestyle and a diet consisting of convenient, unhealthy foods lead to poor health. It’s important to focus on preventative measures and create lifelong heart healthy habits.
Here are 20 easy ways to improve your heart health:
Stop smoking. This one may not be easy but please do whatever it takes to quit this heart damaging habit.
Walk more. Walking is great exercise and stress relief and will help build a strong heart. Earl Reservoir, the Heritage Trail or the lakes in Monroe are all great places to walk.
Know your numbers. Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides need to be within the healthy realm to keep heart disease in check.
Move your body. Do whatever exercise you enjoy so it becomes a habit that sticks. Ideally, you should strive for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week but even 10 minutes can lower your blood pressure!
Eat more fish. Eating fatty fish provides omega 3 fatty acids that improve your heart health.
Laughter is the best medicine. Laughing relieves heart-damaging stress and promotes healthy blood flow in the vessels.
Practice yoga. Yoga not only stretches out your muscles but it also has a positive impact on your heart rate, and will leave you nice and relaxed.
Lose the saltshaker. Reducing salt intake to half a teaspoon per day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Eat your oatmeal. Choose whole grains to add soluble fiber to your diet. They can help lower LDL cholesterol.
Take more breaks. Do you sit for long periods every day? Take short breaks every hour to increase circulation and get the blood flowing in your legs.
Play with your pet. Pets can help lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and may improve heart and lung function. Plus walking a dog gets you moving every day! You can always volunteer at a local shelter if you can’t adopt your own.
Choose lean meats. Yes, you can enjoy meat in moderation however choose lean cuts and watch your portion sizes.
Make time for tea. Both green and black teas have been shown to improve the health of your arteries.
Brush your teeth and floss regularly. Periodontal disease has been directly linked to several types of coronary disease.
Load up on fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. They are also low in calories and full of fiber, making you less likely to snack on junk foods.
Be savvy about fats. Your body needs some fat in order to function but too much saturated or trans fat leads to heart disease. Choose heart healthy monounsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts and some fish.
Don’t ignore chronic inflammation. Those niggling aches and pains are a sign that your body is fighting damaging inflammation. Come see us and let our physical therapists help you heal.
Get some shuteye. Lack of sleep can alter your metabolism, making you prone to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. It also increases your stress levels.
Drink responsibly. Alcohol can have a protective quality but only when consumed in moderation. This means one glass per day for women and two for men.
Enjoy a little chocolate. Dark chocolate has heart healthy flavonoids, so enjoy a square of chocolate that’s at least 72% cacao.