Your heart health is essential to overall good health. Your heart is the centre of your cardiovascular system and is responsible for pretty much everything that gives your body life, from transporting oxygen, to pumping nutrient-rich blood throughout your body, to removing toxins and waste. Prioritizing your heart health should be at the top of your list and to do this, it’s important to adopt a combination of healthy lifestyle habits. Here are some daily habits to improve your heart health.
10 Daily Habits to Improve Your Heart Health
1. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (such as fish and poultry), and healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, and olive oil) is super important. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium, as well as processed and fast foods. Eating fewer ultra-processed foods is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. Nutrients are often removed from processed foods, while sugar and salt are added in.
2. Boost Physical Activity
Exercise is one of the most effective tools for strengthening your heart and keeping your weight under control. Engage in regular aerobic exercises like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. Additionally, incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week. Combining cardio with strength training burns calories, builds muscle, and boosts endurance and heart health.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Strive to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Excess weight, especially around the waistline, increases the risk of heart disease. Regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. If you have trouble keeping weight off, also be sure to skip sugary beverages, watch your portion sizes, and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Eat lots of protein, stay hydrated, and consider limiting your alcohol intake.
4. Manage Stress
Chronic stress can negatively impact heart health. High levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. These are common risks for heart disease. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques (deep breathing, meditation, yoga), engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or seeking professional help if needed.
5. Get Sufficient Sleep
Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. Poor sleep has been linked to various heart conditions, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Establish a consistent sleep routine and create a sleep-friendly environment. Make sure your room is cool and dark, reduce noise (wear earplugs if necessary), avoid screens for at least an hour before bed, and use soothing aromas like lavender to promote a sense of relaxation.
6. Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption
Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels. Chemicals in cigarette smoke cause blood to thicken and form clots inside veins and arteries. This significantly increases the risk of heart disease. Even nonsmokers who breathe in secondhand smoke at home or work are at an increased risk for developing heart disease. If you smoke, seek help to quit.
Additionally, limit alcohol intake or consider cutting it out, as excessive consumption can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart problems including heart failure or stroke.
7. Monitor Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels
Regularly check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels as directed by your doctor. High blood pressure and cholesterol levels are risk factors for heart disease. Follow your healthcare professional’s recommendations for managing these conditions. This will typically include eating a healthier diet, exercising, and quitting smoking if you’re a smoker.
8. Stay Hydrated
Be sure to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps maintain healthy blood flow and supports overall cardiovascular health. It helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels, reducing strain on our most important muscle. Dehydration, on the other hand, can negatively affect your organs and bodily functions, including your heart and cardiovascular system. Increase water and limit sugary drinks and excessive caffeine intake.
9. Prioritize Potassium and Magnesium
Potassium and magnesium are two minerals that are essential for heart health. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure by reducing the stress on your arteries caused by sodium. Magnesium helps maintain healthy blood pressure and reduces insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Magnesium is also important for maintaining a healthy heart rhythm.
Fruits and veggies are rich in potassium, while magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, and seeds. If you’re not sure you can get a sufficient amount through your diet, talk to your doctor about taking supplements for these two minerals.
10. Regular Visits to Your Healthcare Provider
Schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor your heart health and address any concerns or questions you may have. It’s so important to stay on top of your health and advocate for yourself if you think something seems off. If you have a family history of heart disease or heart-related issues, make sure your doctor knows about them and works with you to stay on top of your heart health.
Taking care of your heart health is super important. Use these tips to make healthy changes in your day to day life.
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