February is American Heart Awareness Month, and in honor of it, Texarkana Emergency Center wants to talk about 5 ways that you can better your heart health. No matter if your family is at risk for heart disease or not, it is important for everyone to think about how they treat their hearts. These guidelines will help you find ways to bring heart health into your everyday life.
1. Exercise Your Heart’s Muscles
Between the valves and the ventricles, it can be hard to remember that your heart is made up of muscles. Just like biceps and quads, the heart can get stronger with proper exercise, and to maintain good heart health, it is important to make sure that exercise is had regularly. This is what cardiovascular, or cardio, exercise is good for.
If fitting exercise into your life is challenging, then start small. If you don’t have the time to jump into an intense spin class or start going on long runs every day, that’s okay. Starting off with just 30 minutes of cardio exercise daily will help your heart grow stronger. It can be as simple as going for an evening walk or doing some jumping jacks on your lunch break. Every little bit helps to build up your heart muscles and help fight off heart disease.
2. Limit Fatty Foods
Some of the most classic comfort foods out there have delicious ingredients like butter, bacon, or cheese, but dishes that are high in fat can be damaging to your heart. Foods that are high in saturated fats can pose a risk of increasing your bad cholesterol. While cholesterol might not seem like an issue for kid and young adults, it can get worse over time and cause issues later in life. This makes it important for families to start limiting these fatty foods early.
Try finding some easy replacements for fatty substances in your diet. Instead of butter, use olive oil while cooking. To replace ground beef, try ground turkey or ground chicken for homemade burgers and meat loaves. Even small changes can make a big difference.
3. Maximize Antioxidants
Having a heart-healthy diet isn’t all about depriving yourself. It is also about making sure you get the most from what you like to eat and incorporating more antioxidants into your meals is a big step in the right direction for your heart’s longevity.
Antioxidants are nutrients found in many foods that breakdown bad cholesterol, while making room for more good cholesterol to protect your blood vessels. They help to naturally increase your body’s circulation, and this makes for a stronger heart.
Foods that naturally are high in antioxidants include berries, artichokes, kale, spinach, pecans, walnuts, and dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher). Yes, chocolate can be heart healthy, so if you have a sweet tooth after dinner, then a small portion of dark chocolate can keep you to a heart-healthy diet.
4. Decrease Stress
Stress is an inevitable part of life. From workplace deadlines to hectic weeks of family activities, we all get stressed from time to time, but knowing how to manage and minimize your stress is an important part of maintaining a healthy heart. Stress can cause strain on the heart and raise blood pressure, which makes the risks of heart attack go up.
If you often feel stressed, then examine your daily routine and see where some of your biggest stressors lie. Try to change the way you go about your tasks to lighten the load or ask for help from friends and family to help you lower your stress levels with certain chores or routines. You an also start taking the time to engage in self-care and give your body some extra relaxation. Things like a weekly at-home spa day, complete with long baths and sheet masks from the store, can help a lot of people unwind. Daily practices like meditation and time unplugged from electronics can also be helpful in lowering stress.
5. Avoid Smoke
Smoking, no matter what form, is not good for your heart or lungs. Cigars, cigarettes, pipes, and even marijuana are all harmful to the heart when they’re smoked. This is because smoke itself is dangerous for young lungs and can interrupt oxygen and blood flow in the body. It doesn’t matter what is burning to cause the smoke, smoke in all forms is dangerous and should be avoided.
Whether your family has a history of heart disease or not, it is always important to think about your body’s long-term health. If you feel like you can do better for your heart, then try incorporating some of these tips for better cardiovascular health into your routine. Starting small, with things like walks and olive oil replacements, can go a long way in making sure your heart stays in the best possible condition for years to come.
Texarkana Emergency Center is here to provide only the best in emergency care to every member of our community this month. Our team of highly-trained doctors are always ready to give your family compassionate, concierge-level care. While American Heart Month might be coming to an end, the efforts we take to improve our healthy lives won’t be stopping.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Texarkana Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.