It’s February—National Heart Health Month. I talk about heart health a lot. It’s a huge deal—heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women! I am going to do something a little bit different in this blog!
I usually talk about heart-healthy foods. In this entry, I am going to discuss some lifestyle choices you should make to reduce your risk of getting heart disease.
Exercise improves overall heart health! Exercise gets your heart pumping harder, which strengthens it. It’s suggested to exercise moderately at least 150 minutes per week for maximum benefits. You don’t have to hit the gym to get exercise. Take your dog for a light jog. Dance with your girlfriends! Try an app like Sworkit to get in a great 20-60 minute workout at home. Even a 10 minute mini-workout is better than no workout!
Get enough sleep. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Studies have linked getting sufficient quality sleep had healthier arteries than those who didn’t. Turn electronic devices off at least an hour before bed. Determine a relaxing sleep ritual for yourself (maybe reading or doing some yoga or stretching, or even a warm bath).
If you have difficulty sleeping, make sure your room is dark (consider blackout curtains). White noise machines also help light sleepers.
Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smoke can damage your arteries and lead to the buildup of fatty material. When fatty material builds up in your arteries, they narrow, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Ask your doctor what you can do to quit smoking as soon as possible.
Keep alcohol to 1-2 glasses per day(1 drink for women and 2 drinks per day for men). Drinking more alcohol increases chances of developing high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and other heart disease risk factors.
Stress is a major factor in heart disease. Several studies show that meditation is an effective modality to reduce stress. It also helps to reduce anxiety, and harmful hormones. Meditating can lower heart rate and blood pressure.
And do something that will make you laugh! Laughter is good for your heart; it actually raises your HDL (good) cholesterol!
Eat well, exercise daily (even if for 10 minutes), sleep well, quit smoking, limit alcohol, and reduce stress and your heart will thank you!