Get Moving: 5 Easy Ways to Improve Cardiovascular Health

When it comes to matters of the heart, there are many small lifestyle choices you can make that have a big impact. Here we have five ideas that can be implemented into your life without requiring radical lifestyle changes. Improve your cardiovascular health without skipping a beat!

1. Decrease Your Stress Levels

When your body becomes stressed, there are more than 1,400 biochemical responses that can occur. Two of these are a rise in blood pressure and accelerated heart rate. Stress often becomes a vicious cycle because responses to stress can themselves cause stress!

How Stress Affects Sleep

Stress can also lead to sleepless nights, which can further increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. According to researchers, sleeping too little may disrupt health conditions and the body’s normal processes, like blood pressure and inflammation.

Ways to De-Stress

For those who are natural worriers or who are experiencing particularly stressful events, it can be easier said than done to just relax and stop thinking about it. However, there are ways to change your response to stress so that endorphins that calm the brain are released to put you more at ease. Calming activities to try include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Meditation

Those who had 30-minute acupuncture treatments once a week for eight weeks were able to lower their blood pressure by 8 to 16 points, according to a study conducted at the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute. Turning to deep breathing exercises at the onset of stress can also help change your body’s response to it over time.

Get Active

2. Get Active

Exercise is an extremely effective way to strengthen your heart, manage your weight, and help decrease your chances of high cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Mixing cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises can provide well-rounded fitness benefits.

  • Cardio: Helps improve circulation.
  • Strength Training: Can help reduce fat and encourage the development of lean muscle mass.
  • Flexibility Exercises: Helps the body stay flexible and discourages joint discomfort or cramping.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

You don’t have to be a gym rat to get a beneficial amount of movement each day. For cardio, it’s recommended to spend at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, doing an activity like walking, running, swimming, or cycling. With strength training, aim for two nonconsecutive days per week. Flexibility exercises, like basic stretches or yoga, can be performed daily or before and after your other exercises.

Maintain Good Hygiene

3. Maintain Good Hygiene

Simple things like washing your hands and taking care of your teeth regularly can make a big impact on your heart health.

Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands thoroughly and often can help decrease your chances of catching the flu or pneumonia, which can be hard on the heart. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines proper hand washing as vigorously scrubbing your hands up to your wrists, between fingers, and under fingernails for 20 seconds. While you’re washing, use the time to acknowledge the blessings in your life. Doing so has been linked to better health, longer life expectancy, and overall well-being.

Brush and Floss Your Teeth

Brushing and flossing your teeth every day can have a direct influence on your heart health. Developing gum disease can often put you at risk for heart disease. Some studies have shown that when an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth leads to gum disease, these bacteria can move into the bloodstream and elevate a marker that signals blood vessel inflammation. Regularly taking care of your teeth can help decrease your chances of developing gum disease.

4. Avoid Secondhand Smoke

While it’s great to be a nonsmoker, inhaling secondhand smoke can still be dangerous for your heart health. Those who are exposed to secondhand smoke regularly have a 25 to 30 percent higher risk of developing heart disease. Plus, if you are a nonsmoker but already have high blood pressure or cholesterol, secondhand smoke can exacerbate your risk of heart disease. Cigarette smoke emits chemicals that can cause plaque to build up in the arteries. If you have friends that smoke, consider kindly requesting that they take their breaks a safe distance away from you.

Include “Good” Fats in Your Diet

5. Include “Good” Fats in Your Diet

Fried foods may taste good, but they are full of trans fats that can be harmful to your heart. Trans fats are discouraged because they raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels, which can lead to blockages in your arteries. Eliminating trans fats can help improve your blood circulation. While trans fat can negatively affect your heart, “good” fats like omega-3 fatty acids are highly encouraged.



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