4 Daily Practices for a Healthy Heart
By now, you probably know that exercise and a good diet can keep your heart strong and healthy. But, did you know that there are other things you can do to help your heart work most efficiently? It’s never too late to incorporate these four daily practices into your life to promote good health and wellness.
- Don’t sit for too long.
Recent studies show that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health, even if you get enough exercise for the day. After looking at 800,000 people, researchers found that those who sat the most had a 147 percent increase in cardiovascular disease and a 90 percent increase in death.
So, what if you have a sedentary job that requires you to stay seated most of the day? Find ways to sneak in activity throughout your day. Park farther away from the office, take a few short walks throughout the day and try sitting on an exercise ball or standing while you work. Most importantly – take your breaks!
- Get enough sleep.
Sleep is important for health – not just your energy levels. If you don’t get enough rest at night, you increase the risk for cardiovascular problems regardless of your health and exercise habits. It’s believed that when a person doesn’t get enough sleep at night, there are disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes like inflammation and blood pressure.
Bottom line: Make sleep a priority. Aim to get 7-8 hours every night. If you’re not sleeping well, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. Not only does this condition interfere with a healthy night’s rest, but also it is linked to heart disease.
- Eat healthy fats.
Fats are important for your diet, including some unsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated fats. However, there is one type of fat you don’t need and that’s trans fats. Trans fats clog your arteries by raising bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol.
To avoid trans fats, stay away from margarines, fried fast foods and baked goods. Also, read the labels on your food products so that you know what’s in them. It’s amazing how many foods have added sugars, fats and sodium.
- Take care of your teeth.
People who have periodontal disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. It’s not exactly clear why this is the case, but researchers think it has to do with the bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria can move into the bloodstream and cause an increase in certain proteins that cause inflammation. As a result, the blood changes and poses a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Fortunately, you can take charge of your dental health by brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist every six months. If you do have gum disease, talk to your dentist about ways to reverse the symptoms.
A healthy heart will keep you feeling great and living longer. And, it’s never too late to make these healthy changes that will improve your life in other areas. Be sure to watch our Health Video series on Healthy Aging and Nutrition.