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Do’s and Don’ts for Heart Health: Easy Ways to Live a Heart Healthy Lifestyle
Understanding the things you should and shouldn’t do to maintain good heart health is a major key to overall wellness. Here are some important “Do’s and Don'ts” to keep your heart healthy that you can use as a guide for your own good lifestyle habits.
Let’s talk about some “Do’s and Don’ts” for heart health. When you think about it, heart disease is often caused by poor lifestyle habits, but can be prevented by good lifestyle habits like proper nutrition and exercise. By recognizing both the best and worst habits for a healthy heart, you’ll be well equipped to try out your own heart healthy lifestyle that’s informed by the science behind these different foods and activities.
There are also some easy “cheats” for better heart health like taking Omega 3 supplements to support healthy blood pressure, arteries, and triglyceride levels. To make it all as straightforward as possible for you, we’ve compiled a simple list of the Do’s and Don'ts for heart health.
Do: Get More Physical Activity Daily
Movement is great for your heart and your mind. It’s one of your most effective tools for strengthening the heart muscle, with only 30 to 60 minutes of activity daily being sufficient to help lower the risk of heart disease. Exercise can also help reduce the chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on the heart, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Whether it’s something as simple as walking at a brisk pace, or as involved as an intense aerobic activity like running, all forms of exercise are great “Do’s” to keep your heart healthy. You don’t have to do a strenuous workout to see cardiovascular benefits, but increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of workouts does increase their positive impact. Keeping your weight under control and warding off high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure are all big pluses of regular exercise.
Don’t: Smoke Or Use Tobacco in Any Form
Smokers are almost twice as likely to experience a major cardiovascular event than those who have never smoked. Smoking is also one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease. This is because cigarette smoke reduces oxygen levels in the blood, thereby increasing blood pressure and heart rate. It also damages the delicate lining of arteries.
It’s hard to overstate the benefits of quitting smoking, and the speed with which the cardiovascular system starts to recover is staggering. After a year without cigarettes, the risk of heart disease drops to about half that of a smoker, with full recovery taking up to several years. And, the most important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to stop smoking no matter how much you smoke or how long you’ve smoked for.
Do: Eat Heart Healthy, Nutritious Foods
It’s no secret that many health problems are caused by poor nutrition. A healthy diet, on the other hand, can help protect the heart, improve cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure, and reduce the risk of other conditions. In its simplest form, any heart healthy diet should consist primarily of food like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains. You also want to make sure to include lean meats, fish, low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, and healthy fats such as olive oil.
There are also plenty of things worth avoiding, like processed carbohydrates, salt, alcohol, saturated fats, trans fats and sugar. Sugar can be especially troublesome, as it may lead to weight gain which, in turn, could raise your blood pressure. Instead of sugary foods, substitute those sweet treats and sugar cravings with healthier foods such as yogurt with fresh fruit. Another great substitution is cutting out saturated fat by choosing low fat dairy foods and going with lean cuts of meat.
Don’t: Consume Alcohol in Excess
Not to be a “buzzkill”, but the reality is that having more than two drinks a day can put you at increased risk for high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, abnormal heart rhythms, and damage to the heart muscle. Stick to drinking alcohol moderately, ideally less than those two drinks a day.
Fortunately, in healthy adults, consuming low to moderate amounts of alcohol each day typically has no substantial impact on heart health. In the long-term, however, drinking excessively can lead to a host of issues ranging from an irregular heartbeat, to cardiomyopathy, on-going increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. Here’s some more good news, though: the antioxidants in red wine may help prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks.
Do: Get Plenty of Sleep
It doesn’t just feel bad to be running on insufficient sleep; it can be bad for you. Not getting enough sleep can put you at a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. Insomnia is linked to heart disease, as well. Sleep experts suggest aiming for about seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you feel like you’ve been getting enough sleep but you’re still tired throughout the day, check with your doctor about being evaluated for sleep apnea: another condition that may increase the risk of heart disease.
Getting enough sleep can also help you feel less cranky and overwhelmed, while being more productive. Set a sleep schedule for yourself by going to bed and waking up at regular times each and every day. Make sure you get enough natural light, especially earlier in the day, while avoiding too much artificial light within a few hours of bedtime. Just remember, sleep helps your body repair itself.
Don’t: Stress Yourself Out
Easier said than done, right? The fact is, how much stress you experience and how you deal with it can lead to a wide variety of health problems. Stress can even trigger heart problems, causing poor blood flow to the heart muscle and increasing risk for more serious issues. Stress and anxiety can also cause cortisol levels to spike, making you feel cranky, forgetful, or out of control while sapping your energy.
But there are ways to manage stress and its symptoms that can help you feel better! There are some great stress-busting strategies to try that can help your wellness in the process. Try going for a walk, taking a warm relaxing bath or shower, practicing exercises like stretching and yoga, and engaging in deep breathing exercises and meditation. Above all, make sure to set realistic goals and expectations.
With this list of the Do’s and Don’ts for heart health, you’ll have some powerful new tools at your disposal for your journey to better health and wellness. Remember, progress is always more important than perfection, so what really counts is that you’re putting the effort in — not that you’re rehauling your entire lifestyle in one fell swoop.
You should also take a look at this page featuring two of our best supplements for heart health support. They both make for fantastic additions to any wellness regimen.