In honor of Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, here are five natural ways you can love yourself better and give your heart what it needs to love you longer and better.
- Get enough sleep. Getting good sleep isn’t just important for your energy levels—it’s critical for your heart health, too. If you don’t sleep enough, you may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits. One study looking at 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Researchers believe sleeping too little causes disruptions in blood pressure and inflammation.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is an awareness, a presence, a deep connection to ourselves and others around us and to the world itself. Allowing yourself to slow down, process things and experiences with a full focus on the present moment. A universal connection, a collective conscientiousness. A few examples are; taking a walk in nature, focusing on the breath, and meditation. Mindfulness helps with lowering blood pressure and inflammation. To learn 25 ways to add mindfulness to your daily practice, click here.
- Move your body. Exercise is essential for your heart and can help lower your blood pressure, reduce the “bad” cholesterol (LDL), increase the “good” cholesterol (HDL), and reduce body weight. It can also help you improve your endurance and strengthen your heart. Remember… it’s a muscle! If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start slow and find exercises and activities that you enjoy. For some, that may be simply walking, swimming, riding your bike, or yoga. To improve heart health, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking and stretching each week. You can also see the benefits of exercise on cardiovascular health by completing 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, such as jogging or cycling.
- Drink water. Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every cell, tissue and organ needs water to work properly. Water gets rid of wastes through urine and sweat, lubricates your joints and keeps your temperature normal. It’s also critical for heart health. Pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood a day, the heart is constantly working. By staying hydrated, you are helping your heart do its job efficiently! How much should you drink? Your individual water needs depend on several factors; your overall health, how active you are, your age, your diet (25% of our daily fluid intake comes from the food we eat), and your environment. The common recommendation is to drink eight 8-oz glasses of clean water daily. Check with your doctor to determine how much is ideal for you.
- Eat whole foods. Not surprisingly, the best foods for your health are whole foods. These foods not only keep LDL cholesterol in the normal range but can boost HDL. Whole foods also improve blood flow and prevent blood clots that can often lead to a stroke or heart attack. Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs… all contain vital nutrients the heart needs to stay strong and healthy.
American Heart Association
The Heart Foundation
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