5 Heart Healthy Habits to Improve Your Health
It’s been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but is it possible to make the heart grow stronger? The short answer — yes. There are several small, heart-healthy habits you can develop to improve heart health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
5 Heart Healthy Habits to Start Today
Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, though African American men and adults over 45 are at the highest risk. A few heart-healthy habits could be all it takes to reduce your risk.
1. Add exercise to your daily routine
Getting your heart pumping is the number one way to reduce your risk of heart disease. And it’s free! Try adding 15 minutes of aerobic exercise to your daily routine this month, increasing to 30 when you’re ready. And remember, any and all exercise helps the heart. Whether you prefer a run at the gym, dancing, using the stairs, cleaning, or enjoying a brisk walk, there are tons of easy ways to add aerobic activity to your day.
2. Eat healthy at home
No one can be expected to completely cut restaurant fare from their diet. But cooking at home just three times a week could help you consume less sodium. Try using spices to season food rather than salt. You’ll reduce your sodium intake and see an even greater impact on your heart health.
3. Take steps to quit smoking
Ditching your smoking habit could significantly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. This includes e-cigarettes like JUUL, Halo, and Blu which have been shown in some studies to help traditional cigarette smokers quit. However, the evidence is limited. Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Take the first step toward quitting this month to see improved heart health. For free resources and support, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit smokefree.gov for help at every phase of quitting.
4. Crack a joke
Research suggests laughter can decrease stress hormones, reduce artery inflammation, and increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol). What’s more, the risk of heart disease increases in depressed, post-menopausal women and people with heart disease are 40 percent less likely to laugh than people without it. So go ahead — crack a joke, watch some stand-up, make funny faces in the mirror… laughter really is the best form of medicine.
5. Chat with your doctor
Schedule an appointment to discuss your heart health with your doctor. He or she can help you set goals for improving your heart health and monitor your progress on subsequent visits. Be sure to take any medications as prescribed to ensure they’re effective and to monitor any side effects.
Heart-healthy habits can be difficult to maintain, but don’t sweat it! Try implementing just one tip this month and you’ll be on the path to a healthier heart in no time!
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