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The top 3 things you can do right now to show your heart some love

old man stretching for heart health
Written by: Jennifer

Your heart works hard for you. So why not show it a little extra love?

With a couple of good habits (and a few less bad ones), you can do a whole lot of good for your heart (and your life as a whole).

Did you know that 659,000 people in the U.S. die from heart disease every year?

CDC

Let’s take a quick look at a few simple changes you can make today that can improve your heart health and decrease your risk of heart-related illnesses.

Eat these foods

Eating healthy isn’t always fun. This being said, your heart isn’t exactly picky. It just prefers lean, unprocessed food. Here’s what’s recommended:

  • Berries (Acai works great, too!)
  • Leafy vegetables (Throw some spinach in a smoothie!)
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Pinto beans (How about a bowl from Chipotle? Here’s what to order!)
  • Nuts, almonds, and seeds
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Edamame (Try some edamame drizzled with olive oil and topped with garlic!)
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Lean meats
  • Brown rice
  • Avocados (Toast, please!)
  • Dark chocolate (Yum!)

Did you know that heart disease costs the United States about $363 billion each year?

CDC

Do these exercises

To be honest, a little exercise can go a long way. You don’t have to be in the gym 5 hours a day to get major heart health points. However, it’s also not recommended to avoid exercise forever.

To start small (but to still get big benefits), here’s what you can do:

  • Stretch for 10 minutes every day
  • Walk around the block 3-5 times a week
  • Take the stairs at work
  • Pick up a fun hobby that gets your heart rate up (like an adult softball league or tai chi!)

Eventually, it’d be great to work yourself up to at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week. Until then, though, the above activities can get you headed in the right direction.

According to a study of more than 200 people with somewhat elevated blood pressure, those who practiced tai chi for three months significantly decreased it, compared to those who didn’t. In research involving obese patients with diabetes, tai chi lowered cholesterol, body mass index (BMI) — a measure of weight and height used to define obesity — and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body that’s linked to poorer heart health.

AARP

Quit these habits

Bad habits can really work overtime, and they can even undo all the benefits of your good habits. As is the case with most health-related issues, the top 2 bad habits are the same – smoking and alcohol consumption.

While you might be able to get away with a few drinks a week, smoking is an entirely different story, and it’s important to quit smoking as soon as possible.

Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and causes approximately one of every four deaths from CVD, according to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and health. CVD is the single largest cause of death in the United States, killing more than 800,000 people a year. More than 16 million Americans have heart disease. Almost 8 million have had a heart attack and 7 million have had a stroke.

Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease

Want to learn more about better heart health?

At Flow Therapy, we’re dedicated to improving the heart health of our patients, and we’d love to help you, too. If you’re interested in learning more about how to improve your heart health, how to deal with certain heart issues, or different treatment options, check out the additional resources below.


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