What are Some Heart-Healthy Things I can do?

Sheri Cyprus

Heart-healthy living doesn't have to be strenuous or time consuming. You can really improve your general health and overall sense of well-being by making a few healthy changes to your lifestyle. Fit in exercise when and where you can, eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce stress through daily relaxation.

A selection of heart-healthy vegetables.
A selection of heart-healthy vegetables.

Recent studies have suggested that stress can add to weight gain. Many studies have shown all types of stress to be linked to heart disease. Working to excess and not taking time to relax enough is a big problem in today's world when many of us face pressure to earn enough income to make ends meet. Add to that family and relationship stress, and we aren't doing our selves or our hearts any favors. Yet, even taking an hour or a half hour a day for quiet relaxation can help us to be more heart-healthy.

Skipping fatty, salty foods, like potato chips, can be good for the heart.
Skipping fatty, salty foods, like potato chips, can be good for the heart.

Adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet every day is easy if you eat them for snacks and also try to have at least two vegetables at dinner. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating mostly fresh fruits and veggies because it is the dietary fiber found in these plant foods that is thought to lower cholesterol. Lower cholesterol often means a lower risk of heart disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables can also help to prevent overeating cholesterol raising foods because fiber can make you feel full.

Including more vegetables in a daily diet is heart-healthy.
Including more vegetables in a daily diet is heart-healthy.

Exercise is important to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Many of us begin a three times a week work out regimen and go at it full force only to completely abandon it within the first month or two. Studies have shown that even a few minutes of exercise can benefit heart health, so it is better to start small and fit exercise into your day where you can. For example, there are many exercises you can do at your desk. You can also start walking after your evening meal and then gradually increase the speed to a faster walk.

Daily relaxation can be good for the heart.
Daily relaxation can be good for the heart.

The main thing to remember when trying to do more to live a heart-healthy lifestyle is to make changes gradually, but be consistent. The more habit-forming you can make reaching for carrot sticks rather than potato chips for your snack, the more likely you'll be to stick with it. If you're not a big fan of exercise, you can start becoming more heart-healthy by just dancing to your favorite songs for a few minutes every day.

Canned tuna, in moderation, is a heart heatlhy food.
Canned tuna, in moderation, is a heart heatlhy food.
Salmon is low in calories and offers heart healthy benefits.
Salmon is low in calories and offers heart healthy benefits.
Heart disease can be linked to all types of stress.
Heart disease can be linked to all types of stress.
Keep your refrigerator stocked with oranges and other healthy fruits.
Keep your refrigerator stocked with oranges and other healthy fruits.
Eating more fresh fruit is a healthy idea.
Eating more fresh fruit is a healthy idea.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help deter health problems, like heart failure.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help deter health problems, like heart failure.
Replacing fattening choices with a fruit salad can help people who are trying to eat healthy.
Replacing fattening choices with a fruit salad can help people who are trying to eat healthy.
A regular exercise routine is important for heart health.
A regular exercise routine is important for heart health.
Drinking more water is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Drinking more water is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

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Discussion Comments

sobeit

I had high cholesterol for a while and my doctor encouraged me to take really good Omega 3 fish oil supplements. After a year of taking them and adding a little extra exercise into my daily life (ballet, zumba, and kick-boxing), my cholesterol is back to normal and I am now an exercise addict.

FirstBase

I'm a writer. This automatically makes me more sedentary than, say, a teacher who is on her feet all day, every day.

What I do to encourage a healthy heart is get up many times in the day to do 10 minutes of walking, weight-lifting (3 to 5 lb weights, not anything major, mind you), or even cleaning house (vacuuming or mopping) to keep my blood flowing and muscles stressing.

If you're worried about living in a way to keep your heart healthy, don't eat junk food, don't sit all day, and don't try to avoid getting a little exercise whenever you can.

Having dogs is another great way to stay healthy: you have to walk them and sometimes they prefer to run or jog. My dogs love to run in the morning and evening. I figure they are a health benefit and love the extra activity I get from being their owner.

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