15 Healthy Heart Habits
1. Increase your Strength
Aerobic fitness is key to keeping your heart healthy, but it’s not the only type of exercise you should do. It’s also important to include regular strength training sessions in your schedule. The more muscle mass you build, the more calories you burn. That can help you maintain a heart-healthy weight and fitness level.
2. Stay Positive
A sunny outlook may be good for your heart, as well as your mood. According to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, chronic stress, anxiety, and anger can raise your risk of heart disease and stroke. Maintaining a positive outlook on life may help you stay healthier for longer.
The next time you feel over stressed, take a stroll. Even a five-minute walk can help clear your head and lower your stress levels, which is good for your health. Taking a half-hour walk every day is even better for your physical and mental health.
4. Eat Breakfast
Eating a nutritious breakfast every day can help you maintain a healthy diet and weight. Reach for:
whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, or whole-wheat toast
lean protein sources, such as turkey bacon or a small serving of nuts or peanut butter
low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese
fruits and vegetables
5. Increase the Intensity Level of Your Exercise
During interval training, you alternate bursts of intense physical activity with bouts of lighter activity. The Mayo Clinic reports that doing so can boost the number of calories you burn while working out.
6. Cut the Fat
Slicing your saturated fat intake to no more than 7 percent of your daily calories can cut your risk of heart disease, advises the USDA.
7. Go Nuts
Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other tree nuts deliver a powerful punch of heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Including them in your diet can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Remember to keep the serving size small. While nuts full of healthy stuff, they’re also high in calories.
8. Skip the Salt
Processed and restaurant-prepared foods tend to be especially high in salt. So think twice before filling up on your favorite fast-food fix. Consider using a salt substitute, such as Dash, if you have high blood pressure or heart failure.
9. Move More
No matter how much you weigh, sitting for long periods of time could shorten your lifespan, warn researchers in the Archives of Internal MedicineTrusted Source and the American Heart AssociationTrusted Source. Couch potato and desk jockey lifestyles seem to have an unhealthy effect on blood fats and blood sugar. If you work at a desk, remember to take regular breaks to move around. Go for a stroll on your lunch break, and enjoy regular exercise in your leisure time.
10. Increase Omega-3 Fats
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off heart disease. Many fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, suggests the AHATrusted Source. If you’re concerned about mercury or other contaminants in fish, you may be happy to learn that its heart-healthy benefits tend to outweigh the risks for most people.
Flax seed is another awesome source of omega-3. Consuming 1 TBSP ground flax seed with your oatmeal is a great way to add more omega-3 to your diet.
11. Laugh Often
Laughter is the best medicine! Laugh out loud in your daily life. Whether you like watching funny movies or cracking jokes with your friends, laughter may be good for your heart. According to the AHATrusted Source, research suggests laughing can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and raise your levels of high-density lipoprotein (HLD), also known as “good cholesterol.”
Stretching can help you improve your balance, flexibility, and strength. It can help you relax and relieve stress. This will help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Put your hands to work to help your mind unwind. Activities such as knitting, sewing, and crocheting can help relieve stress and do your ticker some good. Other relaxing hobbies, such as woodworking, cooking, or completing jigsaw puzzles, may also help take the edge off stressful days.
14. Focus on Your Middle
Research in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has linked excess belly fat to higher blood pressure and unhealthy blood lipid levels. If you’re carrying extra fat around your middle, it’s time to slim down. Eating fewer calories and exercising more can make a big difference.
15. Stop Smoking
There are many steps you can take to help protect your health and blood vessels. Avoiding tobacco is one of the best. Smoking is one of the top controllable risk factors for heart disease. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, the American Heart Association (AHA)Trusted Source, National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteTrusted Source (NHLBI), and Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTrusted Source (CDC) all encourage you to quit. It can make a huge difference to not just your heart, but your overall health, too.