Think of your heart like an engine for your body. When it isn’t operating optimally, the overall function is compromised. The good news is, the heart is a muscle. If yours isn’t as healthy as you’d like, you can work toward improvements. Here are a few tips.
You could probably have guessed that physical activity boosts heart health. Do whatever moves you. If running or biking isn’t your thing, find what is. Exercise doesn’t have to be torturous to benefit your body. Just choose a regular activity that gets your heart rate up. Go ahead and mix it up. Dance, swim, hike, garden or play ball…your heart will love you for it.
There are so many options it can be hard to know which ones are good for you. As often as possible, choose foods in their unprocessed form. Go for whole grains, at least 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables and lean meats. Enjoy healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and olive oil in moderation. Skip the unhealthy fats most of the time.
Get enough sleep
Bodies need sleep to be their best. Inadequate sleep not only impacts mood and cognition, but it also impacts memory and heart health. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours each night. Skip the late show and enjoy some quiet time to help you transition to sleep more easily.
Take your medicine
If you have high blood pressure or any other conditions, take your medication as prescribed.
Maintain a healthy weight
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t lose as much weight as you’d like right away. You may find that even if you lose just 10% of your weight that you can boost health. For example, new habits that lead to even a small weight loss may improve blood pressure, cholesterol and your A1c number. All of these improve your heart health.
If you smoke – quit
Quitting smoking can be tough, but it is not impossible. Work with your healthcare provider or employee assistance program for tips, therapy or medication that can help you transition to a smoke-free life.
Cut back on salt
Experiment with new taste profiles by trying out fresh herbs, citrus, vinegar or chili. You may find that you don’t even miss the salt.
Develop a personal care plan that helps you feel more resilient and less stressed day today. That might look like yoga, time with friends, reading, or joining a faith community. Whatever it is, find something that restores you and put yourself on your priority list, so you do it often.
Heart health is important for overall health, so treat yours with loving care.