Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. So, it’s never a bad time to start paying more attention to this important organ.
Whether you’re awake or asleep, your heart is constantly working to pump blood throughout your body. Show it a little appreciation and kick off American Heart Month by following these five tips to keep it healthy.
Get the appropriate amount of sleep
Thinking of pulling an all-nighter? Get a little sleep for your heart’s sake. People who sleep five hours or less tend to accumulate more calcium in their arteries. In time, this calcium buildup will increase your risk of coronary artery disease. With this condition, your blood vessels narrow and get harder. That makes it difficult for blood to travel around your body.
Those who sleep nine or more hours also experience calcium buildup, so don’t plan to lie in bed all day. To keep these calcium deposits to a minimum, try to get around seven to eight hours of quality sleep.
Once you’re out of bed, don’t head straight for the nearest chair. Add five 30-minute sessions of moderate exercise into your weekly routine. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym or local sports team to stay active. Just find an activity you genuinely like, whether it involves jogging around your neighborhood or enjoying a dip in a pool.
If you have to spend long hours in a chair at work, remember to take breaks to walk around and stretch. Just because you squeezed in a 30-minute workout doesn’t mean you should spend the rest of the day sitting.
Add heart-healthy foods to your diet
The food you eat can harm or help your heart. Add more of these items to your daily menu:
- Fish, such as tuna and salmon
- Fruits and veggies
- Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
- Whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole-wheat bread
Some of these foods contain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce swelling in your body. Others have plenty of fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
Avoid harmful ingredients and other substances
Salt can help enhance the taste of food, but it can also increase your risk of heart disease. With that in mind, try to avoid processed foods, which tend to have high salt levels. Too much sugar can also harm your heart by hardening your arteries.
Tobacco can wreak havoc on your body in many ways. When it comes to your heart health, tobacco causes plaque to build up in your arteries and slows your blood flow. It can also thicken your blood, which leads to clots.
Practice stress-reducing habits
Negative emotions can cause blood pressure to spike, and that can be bad news for your heart. Fortunately, you have plenty of options when it comes to lowering your stress level.
For starters, consider using deep breathing exercises. Simply slowing down your breathing can put the brakes on excessive stress levels and negative thoughts.
Want to learn more about your heart health? Take our free, online heart risk assessment today.