Living a heart-healthy lifestyle can be a great way to decrease your cardiovascular risk and manage your weight. What steps can we take to boost our heart health? The following article outlines 4 science-backed lifestyle changes to start improving heart health today!
- Incorporate daily exercise.
You’ve heard it a million times, but exercise really is so important! The fastest way you can start improving your heart health is by making time for physical activity. If you’ve found it challenging to get motivated, be sure to check out my last blog post on how to create (and stick to!) a sustainable exercise routine.
However, intentional exercise is just one small part of our day. We can also increase our daily physical activity by standing while working or walking on our breaks.
- Aim for 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Making veggies half of your plate is one way to start boosting heart health. Fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, which has been shown to help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.1 In addition to fiber, fruits and veggies also provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals – all essential to heart health.
- Reduce your intake of sodium.Excess dietary sodium can have a negative impact on your cardiovascular system.2 The easiest way to decrease sodium in your meals is to add flavor through other seasonings! Onion powder, basil, garlic, and thyme are all delicious ways to up flavor without adding salt. Some of my favorite low sodium deli meats are Boar’s Head, Thin N’ Trim, and Healthy Choice. Toss a few slices of low sodium deli meat into a high fiber wrap for a quick, high-protein snack.
- Manage stress with “brain breaks”.Did you know that better mental health has been linked to a lower risk of cardiac complications?3 When your mind feels calm, your body responds. In order to manage stress, ensure that you get enough sleep and utilize stress management strategies, a.k.a “brain breaks”!Some of my favorite ways to take a brain break include a 10-minute walk in nature, a 5-minute guided meditation, or even just calling an old friend. Try to make time for one activity every day that brings you joy. Taking care of your mind is essential in order to take care of your heart.
- B;, Slavin JL;Lloyd. “Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables.” Advances in Nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22797986/.
- Grillo A;Salvi L;Coruzzi P;Salvi P;Parati G; “Sodium Intake and Hypertension.” Nutrients, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31438636/.
- LD;, Boehm JK;Kubzansky. “The Heart’s Content: the Association between Positive Psychological Well-Being and Cardiovascular Health.” Psychological Bulletin, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22506752/.