Take Care of Your Most Important Muscle: Your Heart!
Feb 26, 2021
It beats about 115,000 times a day; it pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day; it’s about the size of your fist; and it can continue beating even when it’s disconnected from the body.
[So, what are YOU doing to take care of your heart?]
Your heart is the powerhouse of your whole body. When you take care of your heart, your entire body benefits. When your heart is healthy, you function at your best.
Tried and True Heart-Healthy Habits: Here are the most effective ways to improve and maintain heart health.
- Eat the right things. Consume the vitamins and minerals your heart needs to thrive. These foods will help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation: oats/barley, fatty fish, dark leafy greens, nuts/seeds, avocados, olive oil, beets, legumes
- Don’t eat the wrong things. Avoid foods high in saturated fats (think most red meat) and sodium (think processed foods).
- Exercise Every Day. Get in your aerobic, resistance and stretching regimes (think running, strength training and yoga). And schedule in your movement work breaks every 60-90 minutes. (1)
- Don’t Smoke. Smoking is detrimental to your heart and is the cause of many diseases. Quit smoking and save your heart from almost inevitable complications. (2,3)
- Sleep Better. If you are not getting enough sleep, you place yourself at a higher risk for heart disease. Get 7-9 hours each night for better heart health.
Little-known Heart Healthy Habits: These can also help keep your heart healthy.
- Floss Your Teeth. Dental health is a good indication of overall health, including your heart. Studies have shown that bacteria in the mouth “involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels.” (3) Floss and brush your teeth daily.
- LOL. Don’t just LOL on social media. Laugh out loud in your everyday life. Known as “internal jogging,” laughter is good for your heart. According to the American Heart Association, research suggests laughing lowers stress hormones, decreases inflammation in your arteries and raises your good cholesterol (1)
- Don’t Sit Too Long. Prolonged sitting is bad for your health—it can lead to several chronic conditions including heart disease. It’s important to move frequently throughout your day in addition to your daily workout time. (3)
- Avoid Second-Hand Smoke. Even if you aren’t a smoker, the chemicals emitted from second-hand smoke promote plaque buildup in the arteries. Smoke is always a threat to your overall health. (2, 3)
- Meditate. Meditation activates our body’s “rest and digest” functions, which counters our “flight or fight” stress responses. A regular meditation practice has been linked to lower heart rate and blood pressure. (4)
- Healthline Website. 28 Healthy Heart Tips. (Aug. 2020). Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-heart-tips
- Advanced Heart Care Blog. Little-known habits of heart healthy adults. (Sept. 2020). Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.advancedheartcaregroup.com/little-known-habits-of-heart-healthy-adults
- Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials Website. 5 Things to do every day to keep your heatt healthy. (Feb. 2019). Accessed December 27, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-things-to-do-every-day-to-keep-your-heart-healthy/
- Penn Medicine Website.3 Ways Meditation can help your heart, body and mind. (Apr. 2020). Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2020/april/3-ways-meditation-can-help-your-heart-body-and-mind