Did you know your heart beats 100,000 times a day? Responsible for circulating blood and oxygen through your body, your heart is the center of everything that happens in your body.
When you don’t properly care and nurture your heart, you put yourself at risk for complications and disease. Some of these include arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, myocardial infraction, heart failure, and other types of chronic heart disease, according to Mayo Clinic.
As your risk of heart disease increases with age, Medical News Today reports that symptoms like male pattern baldness, chest pain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can be early warning signs you may be experiencing bigger health issues.
In honor of American Heart Month, there’s no better time than now to identify ways to improve your overall health and understand the role your heart plays. Here’s a few tips on how to kickstart your path to a healthy heart for a fulfilling and wellness-focused life!
Physical exercise offers you several benefits. For starters it’s the foundation for health weight loss and lean muscle growth, not to mention the feel-good hormones known as endorphins, that are released when you exercise.
A sweat-inducing workout is proven to help make your heart stronger, too. Exercising helps pump more blood through your heart and delivers more oxygen through your body. This process, in turn, helps lower your blood pressure (which can become high from inactivity), and bad cholesterol, both of which can put you at extreme risk of heart disease.
Research shows that just 30 minutes of low to moderately intense aerobic exercise, performed three times per week, can improve your cardiovascular health.
If you’ve made some changes to your nutritional habits before, you know the effects that eating a nutrient dense diet can have. What you may not have known, though, are the several benefits eating nutritious foods has on your heart as well. A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Because your heart pumps nutrient-rich blood through your body, it’s vital to fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods. Start by replacing some nutrient-poor, processed foods with whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Not only will you start feeling better over time, but you will also notice a change in your energy levels. Knowing what to eat is the first step to leading a heart-healthy diet.
Quality sleep isn’t just important for your mood and energy levels, but it’s vital for heart health. People who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, regardless of age, weight, and smoking and exercise habits.
One reason researchers believe lack of sleep is detrimental to heart health is because it causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes like glucose metabolism, inflammation and most importantly, blood pressure.
During normal sleep your blood pressure goes down, returning to your body’s natural homeostasis. Having irregular sleep means your blood pressure stays higher for longer periods of time. High blood pressure is a leading cause for heart disease and stroke, according to the Center for Disease Control. Getting adequate sleep each night can lower your chances of contracting heart disease. If you find yourself struggling to get to sleep, or to get quality sleep, try one of these methods:
Create an evening routine that signals your body that it’s time to start winding down
Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends
Check your environment for temperature, sound and light
Avoid caffeine after 1pm
Limit exposure to bluelight
If you’re looking to see a change in your well-being, it’s smart to start with your heart. Every other function in your body stems from having a health heart, so before jumping into anything, ask yourself, “Does this benefit my heart?” When you keep that in the forefront of your mind, you are well on your way to a healthy, happy life.