Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is important to people of all ages to keep good overall health. Cardiovascular disease affects more than thirty million people in America each year, including heart attack, stroke, and arterial disease. There are many behaviors you can adopt to lower your risk of heart conditions and stay healthy! In honor of February being American Heart Month, here are five ways you can stay heart healthy.
1. Cardiovascular Exercise: The CDC recommends getting 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week. Cardio is any exercise that increases heart rate and blood flow through the body. Running is a famous example of cardio, but there is much more you can do too! There are jumping jacks and burpees that you can incorporate into any workout, as well as activities like dancing, biking and swimming!
2. Strength Training: While you should practice both, the right amount of strength training can be just as effective as cardio when it comes to building heart health. A Harvard study found that people who did strength training for an hour each week had less fat around their hearts than their counterparts, making them less susceptible to heart issues. Strength training includes lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises such as push-ups or squats, and using resistance bands.
3. HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training is a great way to practice both cardio and strength training at the same time! HIIT consists of periods of about thirty to sixty seconds of explosive intense exercise with periods of rest in between. It’s a great way to incorporate both strength training and cardio exercise into your workout at once!
4. Yoga: Yoga works as a stress outlet and allows the mind and body to relax. Being stressed releases a hormone called cortisol which causes arteries to narrow and blood pressure to increase and can be detrimental to your cardiovascular system over time. Practicing yoga slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure and can reduce stress for the long term when practiced regularly.
5. Healthy Diet: Exercise alone isn’t enough, eating a healthy diet is key to having good heart health! Heart friendly foods include healthy fats such as avocado, high fiber foods such as beans, and antioxidant-packed foods such as blueberries. It is best to avoid high amounts of refined sugars and red meat which are known to increase the risk of heart issues.