How to keep your heart healthy

Heart health indicates the condition of the heart and blood vessels. It tells how well they function. Maintaining ahealthy heart is important for overall health and can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. Factors that affect heart healthinclude lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, obesity and smoking, use of alcohol, as well as genetic and medical factors. A balanced diet, regular exercise,quitting smoking, managing stress, and having regular checkups with yourdoctor goes a long way in improving your heart health. So to maintain overall health and prevent heart disease,it’s important to prioritize heart health throughout your life. These few tips will help you in maintaining a healthier heart with regularity.

1. Heart healthy diet- Food is an important aspect of heart health. Unhealthy fats and cholesterol hardens our arteries and holding of cholesterol deposits. Saturated fats, lots of meat and dairy, fried foods, processed foods with hydrogenated transfats needs to be removed from your diet. Eat more whole foods, unprocessed food and plant foods to accelerate the process of healing your heart. Eat the rainbow. This means to eat all kinds of colorful plant-based foods including the dark green leafy vegetables. Antioxidants, minerals and vitamins in vegetables and fruits like red berries, beetroot, carrot, citrus fruits, spinach, pumpkin, etc. These rainbow food items help in cleansing, recovery and healing your overall system. Fill at least half of your plate with plant-based foods for every meal. Healthy fats like omega-3 fattyacids found in foods like fatty fish, flax, and chia seeds, help reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. Other healthy fats found in nuts, seeds and avocadoscan also be beneficial.

2. Mindfulness- Deep breathing exercises can help improve heart health by reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Take a few minutes each day to focus on yourbreathing and breathe slowly and deeply.  meditation. Practicing mindfulness while walking helps you focus on your body. Notice how your feet feel on the ground, how your body moves, and the sounds and sights around you. Take time each day to think about what you are grateful for and focus on developing gratitude. There are many apps like Calm, Headscape that offer guided meditations and mindfulness exercises that can be useful tools forimproving your heart health. Limit screen time as too much screen time can interfere with sleep, increase stress levels, and negatively affect heart health. Mindful eating involves paying attention to food, including its taste, texture, and smell. A mindfuldiet can improve heart health by choosing healthy foods and eating in moderation.

3. Exercise- Exercise is an important tool in managing the heart health. The main goal of exercise should be to raise your heart rate. This can be done with aerobic exercises like jumping rope, swimming, dancing, kickboxing, brisk walking, running, cycling. Aerobic activities improves blood circulation and are ideally recommended for 30 minutes a day. To train your heart to be more efficient, strength building exercises work by lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. Work with free weights like dumbbells and hand weights, body-resistance exercises, use resistance bands. Endurance and stamina can be built through long duration exercises. Try to include 2 days of strength workout per week. Atheles have the lowest resting heart rate that lowers their risk of cardiovascular exercises. Stretching everything before and after exercise helps maintain balance and flexibility. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, or atleast 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, and choose activities that arefun and sustainable. Thus, make sure to exercise regularly to strengthen heart muscles, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol levels, manage stress, improve blood sugar control and maintain a healthy weight.

4. Lifestyle modifications- Limit your alcohol consumption. Too much of alcohol can elevate the blood pressure and lead to heart disease. Brush twice a day and floss daily as poor oral health has been linked to increased risk of heart disease. Maintain a healthy weight. Adequate amount of water is needed to improve the blood flow and lower the risk of blood clots. Chronic stress increases the risk of heart disease. Find healthy ways to dealwith stress, such as exercise, meditate or spend time in nature. Poor sleep habits increase the risk of heart disease. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and practice good sleep hygiene. Avoid screens before bed and create a peaceful bedtime. Make time for humor and fun in your life as laughter has positive effects on heart health, including lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow. If you have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, consult your doctor for effective treatment. Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your heart is to quit.


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