We’ve all made that commitment on January 1st, but lost focus as we struggle to determine exactly HOW to live out a healthier lifestyle day to day. So, this year, why not focus on your body’s heavy-hitter, the motor that powers everything else that we do, our heart? Nothing that we can do will make a bigger impact on our overall health than keeping this amazing organ functioning at peak performance. Read below to find 5 simple tips and tricks to keep your heart healthy this year.
1. Keep Active Throughout the Day
We all know that exercise is important for the health of our hearts. However, pumping iron in the gym or running 5 miles worth of trails each day aren’t the only ways to meaningfully impact your health. In fact, multiple studies, including a study by the University of Toronto, have shown that the sedentary jobs that have become a major part of the day, for many of us, are a factor in the increase of major cardiovascular events and death.
The great news is that small changes in your routine can make huge impacts on your heart health. Try starting with easy additions to your day, such as parking at the edge of the parking lot to sneak in a few extra steps each day, take a short walk to collaborate instead of using Facebook Messenger, or sneak in an exercise ball or other form of adaptive seating that keep your body engaged as you work.
2. It All Starts with a Smile
Not only can small amounts of physical activity make a great impact on your heart health, but keeping up with everyday things, like brushing and flossing your teeth, can help too. Studies continue on the issue, but seem to indicate that your risk for gum disease directly correlates to your risk for heart disease. One reason may be that the bacteria that can cause gum disease can move directly into your bloodstream, causing inflammation in blood vessels. To keep your heart and smile healthy try all natural products such as Earth Paste, which uses all natural ingredients and essential oils.
3. Keep Your Environment Smoke Free
You’ve heard that smoking is bad for your health, but that’s not limited to lighting up yourself. Studies have shown that second hand smoke raises a person’s risk of heart disease by up to 30%! To stay smoke free, avoid smoking areas at work and in public places, and demand a smoke free home environment. Also, while quitting can be a difficult and lengthy process for those who have picked up the habit, blends of essential oils, (such as orange and clove), picking up a replacement habit, and even nicotine reduction gums and patches can help increase the chances of success.
4. Grab a Full 40 Winks
While many of us are increasingly busy, getting a full night’s sleep may be one of the biggest ways to protect our heart. One study of 3,000 adults over 45, showed a 100% increase in the risk of stroke or heart attack in adults who grab fewer than 6 hours of shut-eye each evening. The good news? The fix is easy! Make sure you are getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night, and if you have trouble winding down, try turning the lights down low, and unplug from devices for an hour before bedtime.
5. Stay Away from Fat
Again, we’ve all heard from television, doctors, or concerned spouses that we need to cut down on the amount of fat in our diet. This seems simple, but fats are what gives our food much of the richness that we have a tendency to crave. So, do we want to forgo actually enjoying what we eat, in exchange for a healthy heart? No, and luckily, we don’t have to. The trick is that while all fats should be used in moderation, there are different kinds, and if you’re trying to get a handle on where to start, focus on trans fats. These fats are known to raise your risk of heart disease, by clogging arteries, raising your levels of harmful cholesterol (LDL), and actually lowering the level of good cholesterol (HDL) in your blood. The fix is easy, start by making sure to check pre-packaged foods for trans fats and cook with heart-healthy fats such olive, grape seed, avocado, or coconut oils to give your foods the richness you crave.
These are just a few ways to keep your heart healthy this year. There are also tons more you can find by doing a little research or talking with your doctor. Figure out what works for you and stick with it! Your heart will thank you later!