Having a healthy heart is vital to your overall health. Taking care of your heart is not just a choice but a necessity today. A healthy heart equals a bigger brain. A risk to your heart is a risk to your brain. The blood pumped through your heart supplies vital oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. Leading a healthy lifestyle is important for your heart health.
How can you improve your heart health? There are many things you can do to help keep your heart healthy and strong:
1. Stop Smoking
Stop smoking. Not only does smoking harm your lungs, it also damages your heart. Smoking more than doubles your risk of developing heart disease. Quitting smoking will benefit your heart and blood vessels. When you quit, your risk of blood clots gets lower. Your “bad” cholesterol will go down and your “good” cholesterol will go up. That’ll help slow the build-up of new plaque deposits.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Along with quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight plays a large role in heart health. You can reach and maintain a healthy weight if you follow a healthy diet. Talk to the doctor about your Body Mass Index, which is your percentage of body fat. Ask about the ideal caloric intake for your height and weight. Excess weight can put excess strain on your heart.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercising helps you maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, and keep your heart strong. Just as exercise strengthens other muscles in your body, it helps your heart muscle become more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout your body. Exercise can help manage chronic disease and decrease your risk of stroke. Mix up your fitness routine with cardio, strength training and stretching. All are important for good health.
4. Eat Healthy
Eating more fruits and veggies can never hurt you – unless it’s fried, of course. Fruits such as oranges, cantaloupes and papaya are rich in beta – carotene, potassium, magnesium and fiber. Dark chocolate is good for your heart health. A high intake of leafy green vegetables was linked to a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. They are high in vitamin K and nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function.
5. Manage Stress
Stress can raise blood pressure and lead to elevated levels of the hormone’s adrenaline and cortisol in the body. These hormones make your heartbeat faster and narrow your blood vessels to prepare your body for a fight or fight response.
After dealing with the stressor, your body can rest and recover, but if you are continuously stressed, your body does not get that chance to recover. This negative reaction to stress can damage your artery walls and cause high blood pressure.
6. Monitor Your Cholesterol
You have to check your cholesterol at least every five years. You’ll want to do this more if your doctor has discovered any issues like high cholesterol in the past. Getting your cholesterol levels checked is an important part of staying healthy. High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
The heart is an amazing part of the human body that works without us even thinking about it — until a heart issue pops up. Be sure to regularly check your heart health with a medical professional.