The heart is the most essential organ of the body, well, all the other organs too play a significant role but the heart is the epicenter of the body. It works round the clock to ensure the proper functioning of the circulatory system. However, over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in heart-related diseases like diabetes, heart attack, etc. One of the many reasons for this is the tremendous change in the lifestyle of people. As people these days are indulging in various unhealthy practices that not only affect their hearts but deteriorate their overall health.
Through this article, we will share a few of the simplest ways to ensure your heart’s health. Don’t worry, this doesn’t involve much money but is more about investing your time and effort in the right direction.
Here’s a list of 13 ways to keep your heart healthy
Exercising or engaging in any type of physical activity contributes to boosting your heart’s health. But, if the idea of lifting heavy weights scares you then don’t worry you can start by doing light practices like brisk walking, stair climbing, gardening or even dancing on your favorite track. Physical activities help in keeping one’s blood pressure in check and in controlling cholesterol levels and other blood lipids.
Everyone follows different fitness regimens, some prefer home-based workout methods whereas others prefer to work out under the supervision of professional trainers. There is a wide range of work-out available and you can pick as per your suitability. Start working out for less time period and then gradually increase the time duration, intensity, and frequency of the activity.
The American Heart Association recommends 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. Some of the commonly practiced methods are Aerobics, Zumba, Yoga, Running, etc.
Before you begin with any physical activity try to understand its benefits and how it engages the heart. Following a fitness routine helps in training the brain and even uplifts one’s mood. Often people like to hit the gym when they are feeling stressed, sad, or going through difficult times as exercising releases endorphins which makes one happy and calm.
One can also make a workout session interesting by playing some music in the background or exercising with a friend or a partner.
Get enough sleep
It is crucial to have sound and uninterrupted sleep for the better functioning of the heart. People who aren’t getting enough sleep are more likely to contract cardiovascular diseases as compared to the ones who take proper sleep.
Sleeping for less than three hours a day slows down the body’s reaction time and may make one feel like a juicehead. This is also the leading cause of irritation and restlessness in many as it interferes with one’s blood pressure by forcing the heart to speed up blood circulation.
Generally, it is recommended to get sleep between six to nine hours a day, because the body uses sleep as a chance to recover and recuperate from the hassle one faces throughout the day. If you are having trouble sleeping then try consulting the general practitioner.
Say no to Trans-fat and shift to a healthy diet
People these days are choosing packaged food products over healthy options. Food items such as canned beans, canned fish or meat, baked products, etc. are heavily loaded with trans fat, which is produced in industries by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil.
Trans fat is the root cause of many chronic diseases and heart-related problems. It is not only harmful to the heart but also affects other organs such as the kidneys, brain, etc.
Hence, consider opting for fresh food products rather than fully relying on packaged ones. Try to instill home-cooked food as a part of your meal. A healthy diet keeps the heart healthy and reduces the risk of getting blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and cholesterol.
Do you know packaged food can negatively affect your physical and mental health?
To read more about packaged food, check out our article on – Reasons you should avoid packaged food.
Let us talk about another major cause of cardiovascular diseases i.e, stress which affects the mental and physical health of a person and disturbs the normal functioning of the heart.
There are various types of stress that can negatively affect a person’s heart health, let’s take a look at them –
- Acute Stress – This is the most common type of stress experienced by individuals. It is the result of an unexpected life crisis or a traumatic event that leaves the person in a shocking state. This often leaves a person breathless forcing the heart to speed up blood circulation to meet the body’s oxygen requirement. Acute stress can last from a minute to a month depending on how a person deals with it.
- Episodic Acute Stress – The stress that an individual suffers frequently or in episodes is called episodic acute stress. This happens in the case of accidents, divorce, sudden changes in the comfort zone, etc. Its effects vary from person to person depending on the coping mechanism of individuals, but it commonly increases the heart rate which forces the heart to pump blood at a higher pace than normal. One study states that approximately 31.1% of Americans suffer from anxiety during their lifetime.
- Chronic Stress – The impact of chronic stress is considered to be quite damaging to a person. It usually happens to individuals who are always anxious about future circumstances. This is a prolonged feeling of stress which doesn’t give the nervous system much type to process the response to the stress. It can lead to many chronic diseases like heart attacks. Hence, it is advised to consult a psychiatrist when the situation turns worse.
Broken Heart Syndrome – Well, don’t go on the name, this isn’t something about heartbreaks but is definitely related to your heart. We are sure you must have suffered from broken heart syndrome at least once in your life.
This is a condition in which a person may feel sudden chest pain or feel like having a heart attack. This usually happens because of extreme emotions, stressful events, or even because of a physical illness or surgery. It happens for a short span of time but makes one vulnerable to many heart-related diseases.
So, next time If you ever feel a sudden burst of emotion heaving your chest, then try to calm yourself down or take deep breaths. This will help in soothing your senses and will gradually relax your heartbeat.
Quit smoking and tobacco
These days people are indulging in smoking and drinking to deal with various problems and stress. It is also emerging as a ruling trend among youngsters, who under its influence ignore its various harmful effects. Smoking can severely damage one’s lungs and heart by creating clots in the blood vessels.
There are many cessation products available in the market that can help to quit smoking such as gum, lozenges, and patches. However, at times, quitting an addiction may become suffocating and make you feel frustrated thus don’t hesitate in taking the help of family members or a doctor.
Check your sugar intake
Sugar however tempting maybe isn’t good for one’s health. These days packaged food products are high in sugar and slowly lead you towards diabetes. Industrial refined sugars increase the risk of many cardiovascular diseases which severely damages the heart and blood vessels. Hence, it is important to keep a check on one’s sugar intake. Those who have a family history of such chronic diseases should make conscious food choices and should do a timely check-up of their sugar levels.
Keep your weight in check
Usually, people don’t pay much attention to their eating habits which result in the accumulation of abnormal or access body fat. Obesity is the primary reason for many disabilities and is correlated with many cardiovascular diseases.
The excess of indulging in junk food is also one of the emerging reasons for the increasing rate of obesity in people. Although junk food may temporarily feed your hunger it can lead you to many severe diseases. Furthermore, people who aren’t exercising daily are more at risk of suffering from obesity which severely affects the cholesterol level of a person leaving one vulnerable to diseases like type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc.
In order to lead a healthy life it is vital to maintain a balanced diet by keeping in mind all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Try to observe your food intake for a day or two to understand the food composition. Health experts recommend consuming nutrients in the right proportion for both mental and physical health. Try to include food items that are low in calories and high in nutrients like green leafy vegetables, eggs, meat, fruits, etc. A healthy diet not only boosts the metabolism but also rejuvenates the mind by enhancing one’s mood. It assists in regulating blood circulation and keeps one’s heart healthy.
Don’t sit for too long at one time
Sitting for too long in one place increases the risk of obesity, chronic diseases, and bad body posture, it can even compromise one’s metabolic system. Most working-class people are complaining of suffering from blood pressure issues which is mainly because of the lack of body movement.
When looking at the combined results of several observational studies that included nearly 800,000 people, researchers found that in the people who sat the most, there was a 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events and a 90 percent increase in death caused by these events. In addition, sitting for long periods of time (especially when traveling) increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot).
Maintain proper dental health
Numerous studies have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. This also puts one at risk of contracting heart disease and stroke. We recommend consulting your dentist at least every six months for healthy teeth and gums.
Consult your cardiologist for better heart health
A cardiologist is a heart specialist who can treat heart-related problems. Based on the symptoms one is facing cardiologists can easily diagnose the root cause and specify the required medication for it. If you ever feel chest pain or breathlessness, we advise you to consult a heart specialist.
Take proper medications
Those who are suffering from heart-related diseases are advised to take proper medication in order to prevent further complications like a heart attack or sudden fluctuation in sugar levels which also increases the risk of a brain hemorrhage.
The medication also helps in slowing down diseases and controlling additional intricacies that negatively impact the cardiovascular system of the body. If you are a diabetic or suffer from blood pressure issues, then don’t forget to keep a check on your sugar level and blood pressure. Consult a doctor if you feel that the prescribed medicines aren’t giving proper results.
Laugh as much as you can
If no one told you before, we are telling you that laughing out loud can make your heart healthy. Laughing decreases artery inflammation in the body by reducing stress hormones. It also increases HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) which not only keeps the heart healthy but restores the overall body.
Laughing triggers the mind in releasing happy hormones which makes you feel good and relaxed.
Always laugh, when you can, it is a cheap medicine.Lord Byron (English poet)
In order to live a good life it is necessary to take care of one’s heart. A healthy heart helps in the proper functioning of other parts of the body. There are many ways to keep your heart healthy apart from practicing yoga and exercising daily. By making a few changes in your lifestyle you can live a better life. Start by making a routine to live a healthy life and follow it religiously.
Featured image credit by Robina Weermeijer from Unsplash