Seven tips for boosting your heart health
As people celebrate Valentine’s Day this month with candy hearts and chocolates, perhaps the most important thing to remember during this month of love is that February is American Heart Month. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for the most deaths in both women and men every year in the United States. Each year, one in four deaths are caused by heart disease.i However, heart disease is often preventable by implementing healthy lifestyle choices. Here are seven great tips for keeping your heart healthy and in shape.
i The American Heart Association. (n.d.). American heart month. Retrieved from http://healthfinder.gov/nho/februarytoolkit.aspx
Keeping a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and limited sodium can all lower your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy. Foods low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fat can also contribute to your heart’s well-being.ii
As we all know, exercise is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, getting exercise does not necessarily mean paying for a gym membership. Going for a walk with a friend or taking the stairs when possible are all great ways to work healthier habits into your daily routine. Love to dance? Dancing can burn between 150-300 calories per hour, is a great way to exercise, and raises your heart rate (in a good way).iii
Maintain a healthy weight.
Everyone’s body is different, so there is not an exact number that works for everyone. However, losing a few of those unwanted pounds could decrease blood pressure and strain on the heart. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, if you are carrying excess weight (especially around the middle), blood pressure rises and blood lipids, fat-like substances found in your blood and body tissues, are negatively affected.iv Finding your healthy weight and maintaining it can have amazing benefits for the heart.
Smoking cigarettes significantly increases your risk of heart disease. Not only does cutting out cigarettes do wonders for the heart, but it is also beneficial to your lungs, skin, and wallet.
Get your hands working.
Performing activities with your hands can help the mind unwind and decrease stress levels, which positively impacts your heart and overall health. Knitting a scarf, sewing, finishing a jigsaw puzzle, or crocheting are all great activities to unwind, de-stress, and keep your heart fit.v
One of the best ways to relieve stress and promote blood flow to the heart is to put a smile on your face. Laughing can do more than promote your overall happiness – it can keep your heart smiling as well. Finding time to laugh with friends or watch your favorite comedy on television will keep both you and your heart youthful. Daily activities provided by Holiday Retirement communities can not only introduce you to new hobbies and friends, but also keep your body and mind in great shape.
Indulge in dark chocolate.
According to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, rich, dark chocolate decreases the chances of heart disease by decreasing blood sugar and improving glucose metabolism.vi Moderation considered, savoring a piece of dark chocolate may not be as bad for you as you thought.
ii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, Feb 13). February is American heart month. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/
iii Healthline Editorial Team. (2013, March 28). 28 healthy heart tips. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/healthy-heart-tips
iv Healthline Editorial Team. (2013, March 28). 28 healthy heart tips. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/healthy-heart-tips
v Healthline Editorial Team. (2013, March 28). 28 healthy heart tips. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/healthy-heart-tips
vi Fraga, C. G. (2005). Cocoa, diabetes, and hypertension: should we eat more chocolate?. American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 8(3), 541-542. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/3/541.full
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