Poor heart health is largely preventable and well worth the effort.
In recognition of American Heart Month Month, Yogesh Paliwal, MD of Indus Cardiology Inc., in West Covina, Pomona, and Montclair, California, offers eight ways to improve your heart health in just minutes a day.
1. Start on the right foot — and then the left
Walking offers benefits and is some of the best exercise for your heart. It can improve your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and energy levels. Walking can also reduce stress and improve your mood. Be creative. Park further away than usual and walk the rest of the way to your destination. And whenever you’re faced with stairs, an escalator, or an elevator, opt for the stairs.
2. De-process your food
Whether you eat at home or out, choose whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Think of taking the “process” out of your food and go for unprocessed goodies whenever you can.
If midday you hit that familiar wall. Instead of slogging through or grabbing a candy bar or sugary coffee drink, take a quick walk. This works to re-energize you, clear your head, and do wonders for your heart.
4. Prevent stress overload
Take a few minutes throughout your day to sit quietly and decompress. A one-minute meditation slows your heart rate and can help you hit the restart button anytime.
5. Say so long to salt
Sodium is not heart friendly, so you want to minimize its use. Try another seasoning for a flavor instead, such as lemon juice, pepper, or herbs.
6. Quit smoking
This is naturally easier said than done. But kicking this habit is essential for your heart, as well as your lungs, eyes, mouth, reproductive organs, bones, bladder, and digestive organs. The CDC offers many resources to help you quit.
7. Don’t binge before bedtime.
Do you often find yourself at your fridge past 9 pm? If so, grab a piece of fruit or, better yet, walk away. Late-night snacking is one of the worst nutritional habits. It’s a quick way to gain weight, making your heart work harder.
8. Don’t skimp on shut-eye
A lack of sleep or poor sleep quality is linked to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. In addition, poor sleep can eventually lead to unhealthy heart habits, such as increased stress levels, sedentary behavior, and unhealthy food choices.