It’s unavoidable. Life is constantly pulling you in so many directions, and you can only be stretched so thin before stress begins to take its toll. This can wear you down making you more susceptible to heart disease.
Did you know that every 1 in 3 people has heart disease?
It’s the #1 killer of both men and women and has claimed more lives than cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes and even accidents combined.
Your heart works so hard for you and literally nonstop for your entire life. So, it’s time to start showing it some TLC. By making some small changes in your habits, you can make a huge difference to your loyal ticker!
Let’s take a look at just five ways that you can easily start making your heart healthier today:
Start by Improving the Amount of Sleep You Get Each Night: Everyone is guilty of pulling an all-nighter from time to time, or of wanting to stay up just a little later to watch that show on tv. But did you know just how important a full night’s sleep is for your heart?
According to a study published in the American Heart Association journal, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, research showed that young and middle-aged adults who sleep at least 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries. Too much calcium present is an early sign of heart disease and is more common in those who slept 5 hours or less.
Eat the Healthy Fats NOT the Trans Fats: We need fats in our diet, but the one fat we don’t need is trans-fat. Trans fats are known for increasing your risk of developing heart diseases and even strokes during your lifetime. By cutting these fats out from your diet, and sticking to foods high in saturated and polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats, you can improve the blood flow in your body. Steer clear of things like packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarine and fried fast foods.
Start Avoiding Any Secondhand Smoke: According to the American Heart Association, the risk of you developing heart disease goes up by 25-30% when you constantly find yourself exposed to secondhand smoke. Whether it’s at work or home, why take that risk?
Tobacco smoke exposure is what contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths, and even causes roughly 7,300 lung cancer-related deaths each year. On top of all that, nonsmokers who have high blood pressure suffer an even greater risk of developing heart disease when exposed to secondhand smoke. This is due to the chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke which cause plaque to buildup in your arteries.
Get in Touch with Nature: Take a walk outside and enjoy a little sunshine. Sunlight helps produce Vitamin D in your body, which is linked to better heart health. Start small by taking a 15 to 30 minute walk a day.
You can even take that walk a step further by practicing the popular Japanese activity called “shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing. Research on this practice found that people who took a walk through a wooded area as opposed to a more urban area, had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol present, a reduced heart rate, and even lower blood pressure.
A 2011 British review of 11 studies found that people who exercised outside generally reported to have more energy, and felt refreshed as opposed to the anger and tension that they sometimes felt while working out indoors at a gym.
Stay Hydrated: Your body is made up of about 83% water, while your brain and muscles are made up of roughly 3/4 water. Even your bones pack about 22% water. Water is what greatly contributes to every single metabolic process in your body, including the absorbing of required nutrients and the removing toxic waste.
When it comes to helping your heart pump blood more easily through the blood vessels, it’s best to remember the importance of keeping the body hydrated. Drinking several 8oz. glasses of water a day can reduce your chance of a fatal heart attack. The water dilutes the blood, making it less likely to clot and lead to an attack. According to Low Country Spine & Sport’s medicine physician, John Batson, M.D: “If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.”.