The health of your heart must be one of your top priorities. This muscle is working for you all the time, every day, and needs some loving care to keep working efficiently. With a few small changes to your daily habits and routines, you can begin to improve your heart health quickly and efficiently.
Here are some of the steps that you can take, starting today, to begin reducing the risk of a future cardiovascular issue.
#1. Get enough sleep every night.
Most adults should receive at least 7 hours of sleep every night. People who receive poor-quality sleep on a frequent basis have a higher risk of experiencing problems with their arteries compared to those who frequently receive good-quality sleep. Many who consistently get less than 5 hours of sleep per night typically have lower calcium levels in their arteries, which can be an early warning sign of impending heart disease.
#2. Stabilize your blood pressure.
High blood pressure places an extra force on your cardiovascular system that can eventually damage the blood vessels, arteries, and heart. Should that damage occur, scar tissue may form and make it more difficult for blood to circulate.
Low blood pressure is not usually considered a serious problem, but it can be serious if the pressure drops so low that the heart struggles to get enough blood to the brain.
Stabilizing your blood pressure will reduce the risks of a problem developing over time. If you do struggle with high blood pressure, consider taking these actions:
- Limit the amount of salt you consume every day.
- Keep your alcohol intake to about 1 drink per day.
- Reduce red meat consumption.
- Add some exercise to your daily routine.
#3. Be smart about the fats in your diet.
Saturated fats should be kept to minimal amounts. Dairy products and red meat tend to contain the most of this type of fat, but you’ll also find them in processed foods. Saturated fats will promote an increase in LDL cholesterol and promote weight gain.
Healthy fats, like what you receive from avocados and olive oil, promote HDL cholesterol formation, have Omega-3s, and other health benefits. These are called “monounsaturated fats.” Easy ways to make some dietary switches are to swap hummus for sour cream, cook with canola oil, and snack on nuts or seeds instead of sugar-based products.
#4. Have your blood sugar levels tested.
Many people may have diabetes or be in a pre-diabetic condition and not realized. When blood sugar levels remain high over time, it increases the chance of damage to the circulatory system in a way that is like what high blood pressure can cause.
You can choose to limit blood sugar spikes right now as an added benefit to heart health. Processed carbohydrates can be easily switched for high-fiber carbohydrates. It’s like using brown rice to replace white rice. Positive changes will all work toward lowering blood sugar levels and keeping them at stable levels.
#5. Get into the habit of exercise.
Your heart benefits from receiving at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 days per week. You don’t need to be able to run a marathon, but you do want to work hard enough that your body begins to break out in a sweat.
You’ll want to limit how much time you spend sitting as well. Cut that time down as much as you possibly can. Even if your job requires you to sit at a computer, take a 5-minute break every hour to just move around.