February is Cardiovascular Disease Awareness Month! We all know our cardiovascular health is vital to our wellbeing. Heart disease in this country is on the rise, as many Americans suffer from cardiovascular conditions. So, how can we keep our hearts healthy? We all know the importance of physical exercise and weight management (and also, our diets!), but what else can we do to keep our hearts healthy? I’ve listed four ways to maintain a healthy heart.
Get Enough Sleep
Are you getting enough uninterrupted sleep at night? According to one heart study conducted on adults 45 and older, those who did not get the required 6 hours of sleep were nearly twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke in comparison to those who slept six to eight hours per night. Sleep really is vital to your health. Getting a good night’s sleep can prevent you from having heart problems later in life; that is a fact. According to researchers, sleeping too little can cause a disruption in underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure and inflammation. If you cannot sleep well at night, talk to your doctor. It may help to practice good sleep hygiene if you aren’t already doing that. Talk to your doctor if you suffer from insomnia and/or sleep apnea. It is ideal to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep on most nights.
Avoid Secondhand Smoke
You should avoid secondhand smoke like the plague. It’s damaging effects are obvious to most. According to some studies, the risk of developing heart disease is 25 to 30 percent higher in people who are exposed to secondhand smoke. The American Heart Association states that exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to around 34,000 premature heart disease deaths. If you’re a nonsmoker with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol you have an even higher risk of developing heart disease if you are exposed to secondhand smoke. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause the development of plaque in your arteries. If you are around someone who smokes, it is wise to tell him or her to not smoke around you because of all the risks to your health.
Move, Move, Move!
No matter what your physical condition is, try not to sit for long periods of time. If you do this too often, it can have negative effects on your heart’s health. It doesn’t matter how much you exercise; everyone should avoid sitting for long periods of time. This increases your risk of developing a blood clot, otherwise known as deep vein thrombosis. Many of us work sedentary jobs, so how can we avoid this problem? There is something you can do. Try to move around throughout the day. For example, if you drive to work try parking farther away from your office. Or, you can also take short walks throughout your day. If it’s lunchtime, for example, try taking a walk. Experts recommend walking for 30 minutes each day. You can also take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Adopt a Dog
This tip is obviously not for everyone. However, if you would like to have a jogging and/or walking companion, then this tip may be for you! I’ve had dogs all my life and I can attest to that. For instance, if you are having trouble with staying motivated to go for a daily walk, walk your dog. It’s a win-win situation for both of you. Dogs are also known to provide their owners with much needed stress relief, which can also improve cardiovascular health. It has been scientifically proven that dogs help keep their owners healthy. This includes their owner’s hearts!
I hope this post was helpful. Our hearts are vital to our wellbeing, so it is very important to keep them healthy. Do yourself (and your heart) a favor and consider following these tips.