5 Simple Steps You Can Take To Prioritize Your Heart Health Today


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Feb. 28 2024, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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You only get one heart — and it’s essential to take proper care of it. Committing to lifestyle changes can significantly impact your heart health, improving your quality of life and reducing your risk of heart-related issues. To close out American Heart Month, are five simple steps you can take to prioritize your heart health. 

1. Make exercise a regular part of your routine.

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Regular exercise can do wonders for your cardiovascular health. You should strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week. Activities like brisk walking, jogging, swimming or cycling can improve your heart health, strengthen your cardiovascular system and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Find an activity you enjoy and make it part of your routine. You can start small, such as:

  • Setting a daily step target
  • Aiming to attend two fitness classes a week
  • Going on daily walks during your lunch break
  • Plan a hike each weekend
  • Park further away 
  • Join a gym

2. If you’re a smoker, seek resources to quit.

Quitting smoking cigarettes, vapes and other products is one of the best steps you can take for your heart health. Smoking damages blood vessels, raises blood pressure and increases your risk of heart disease. Tobacco use can also increase your risk of death from gallbladder cancer and increase your chances of stroke, lung disease, diabetes and heart attack. 

The positive impact of quitting smoking is almost immediate. Within just 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate starts to normalize. Within a year, your risk of heart disease is already significantly reduced.

To make the journey to a smoke-free life more manageable, consider these tips:

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  • Inform your friends, family and coworkers about your decision to quit. Having a solid support network can provide encouragement and accountability. 
  • Explore nicotine replacement products, like patches, gum or lozenges to manage withdrawal symptoms and gradually reduce nicotine dependence. 
  • Seek help via support groups or programs, and ask about your insurance benefits options at your workplace in order to cover costs.
  • Celebrate achievements along the way, even if it’s just a week or month without smoking.
  • Recognize situations, emotions or activities that trigger the urge to smoke. Develop strategies to cope with these triggers, such as deep breathing.
  • Treat yourself to rewards for reaching milestones in your journey.

3. Fill your plate with heart-healthy foods.

Your diet is one of the most important aspects of keeping your heart healthy. Focus on filling your plate with nutrient-rich foods. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, sodium and added sugars. Include some of these heart-healthy foods in your meals:

  • Leafy greens
  • Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, oranges and grapes
  • Eggs
  • Lean meats
  • Soy products like tofu and edamame beans
  • Legumes like lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans
  • Avocados
  • Salmon and trout
  • Nuts and seeds
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4. Incorporate mindfulness into your daily habits.

Make mindfulness practices like meditation and deep breathing exercises a regular habit. These techniques promote calmness and research has shown they positively impact various cardiovascular risk factors. 

Regular meditation can reduce stress levels, lower your blood pressure and improve your overall well-being. Deep breathing exercises, like diaphragmatic breathing, can promote relaxation and decrease your heart rate, contributing to a healthier cardiovascular system. Take just a few minutes each day to focus on your breath and clear your mind. 

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5. Find ways to manage or cut stress.

Chronic stress can have detrimental effects on your cardiovascular system. Stress increases your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Identify and address sources of stress in your life to create a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. This may involve making conscious choices to simplify your schedule, setting realistic goals and establishing boundaries to prevent overload and burnout. 

Make time for your hobbies as it can alleviate tension and promote relaxation. Research shows that engaging in activities you enjoy can boost heart health among other benefits, like improving social interaction and work performance. 

Make sure you have a strong support system, whether it’s friends, family or even professional guidance. Having someone you can confide in can help you better navigate life’s challenges. 

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Prioritizing heart health doesn’t require drastic changes. By incorporating these five simple steps into your routine you can take significant strides towards maintaining a healthy heart for years to come. Remember, small, consistent efforts over time can lead to lasting benefits for your cardiovascular well-being.

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By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

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