Did you know over 30 million people have heart disease in the US? That's almost 10% of all Americans.
Your heart is what keeps you going. It gets you up and helps you move through every activity you take on.
So why not take the best care of it you can? These four habits can help you improve heart health and your quality of life.
1. Break Down Your Diet
What you eat has a direct impact on how your body works. Foods that are fried, high in saturated fat, or full of salt will increase your risk of heart disease.
Thankfully, there are over 40 foods high in antioxidants that you can incorporate into a heart-healthy diet. Try adding kale, spinach, and other leafy vegetables as a start. Dark chocolate, raspberries, and strawberries (in moderation) also make the cut!
2. Keep Moving
Another key ingredient in a heart-healthy life is movement. Invest in some good walking shoes and take them for a spin. Learning how to swim or how to do yoga is also really good for your heart.
If you can, try to include weight training in your workouts. You don't have to lift heavy weights; just start small and work your way up. Weight training is great for the heart and keeps your bones healthy and strong, too.
Think of it this way: the more you move now, the more you'll be able to keep moving later. Regularly getting your blood pumping will build strength and stamina in your heart.
3. Kick Those Bad Habits
Some habits are tough to break, but if you want a healthy heart that lasts, you've got to let them go.
Drinking too much can have long-term effects on your health. For reference, the CDC recommends men have no more than two drinks on any given day and women no more than one.
That isn't a lot of alcohol for good reason. You should avoid or moderate alcohol due to its links to heart disease, stroke, and cancer. If you tend to grab a few beers or a couple of glasses of wine each night, try making the switch to water.
Believe it or not, smoking is only bad for your lungs. When you inhale smoke, you fill your blood with thousands of toxic chemicals. These effectively poison your body, including vital organs like your heart.
There's no reason to continue smoking. If you're struggling to quit, speak with your doctor about how to manage the process.
The more sugar you eat, the greater your risk of developing heart disease. Sugar is in a surprising number of foods. You have the obvious cakes and sodas and the more subtle sauces, dressings, and condiments.
Going off sugar cold-turkey can be hard because you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Instead, wean yourself off over the course of a couple of weeks. Your body, and your heart, will thank you for it!
4. Reduce Stress
Easier said than done, right? Stress may seem like a minor issue in your life, and you may be right! A little stress now and then keeps us alert, on our toes, and moving forward.
But chronic stress is something else entirely. You come home each day or wake up each morning feeling exhausted and anxious. You're always thinking about what you need to do or things you could improve.
Stress makes your heart work overtime. It releases adrenaline, raising your blood pressure and making your heart beat faster. All that extra work, over time, takes a toll on your heart.
You may be pushing toward retirement, but remember the importance of stress management. Take time to do things you enjoy, that make you feel calmer and at peace. Explore the benefits of yoga and meditation or spend more time with your family.
Tips to Improve Heart Health
Heart health is often undervalued until there's an issue. But the great thing is, your heart is resilient and adaptable. You can take these habits into consideration and use them to improve heart health right now.
To kickstart this process with a new pair of walking or running shoes, click here.