You don’t have to be a fitness Guru to have a healthy heart, we’ve created a simple approach to keep your heart well.
How do I keep my heart healthy? Is a question I ask myself, more so in recent times and if you’re like me, the thoughts of taking on a 15-minute HIIT workout is enough to send me running for the hills, well maybe not running but you catch my drift. I’m by no means an avid gym-goer so a lot of the workouts I see, be it high-intensity home workouts, gym workouts, or one that has become increasingly popular as of late, exercising outdoors, all can be quite intimidating for a beginner. That being said, the health of our hearts is detrimental to living a healthy life and keeping ourselves well. There are other ways than just exercise that we can do to keep that heart ticking away nicely too! I have found a few simple, achievable, realistic and non-intimidating ways to keep your heart healthy.
- Eat healthy fats, NOT trans fats. Trans fats increase the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke, these bad fats clog the arteries by raising your bad cholesterol levels and lowering your good cholesterol levels. Cutting these out or cutting down at least, improves the blood flow throughout your body. Examples of these ‘bad fats’ can be found in packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarine and fried fast foods.
Try incorporating these ‘good fats’ into your diet like Avocados, cheese (in moderation of course) dark chocolate, whole eggs, oily fish like Salmon, Mackeral, Sardines, and Trout. Nuts, Chia Seeds, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut oil, and Full-fat yoghurt. Most of the yoghurts on our shelves are low fat which are packed full of sugar which is bad for the heart, so go for the good stuff!
- Practice good dental hygiene. How well we look after our teeth says a lot about our heart. Studies have shown that people who suffer from gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease. Studies continue on this but many have shown that the bacteria in the mouth from gum disease can move into the bloodstream which causes an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation of the blood vessels. So floss and brush your teeth twice daily to reduce the risk.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is so important for our hearts and well being. People that sleep less than 6 hours a night are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Try to get at least 7 to 8 hours a night. Don’t drink caffeine after 7 pm or eat a lot of sugar before bed. Try reading for an hour before you switch the light off rather than scrolling through your phone. The blue light on screens affects sleep, making it harder to switch off. Set yourself a realistic time for bed and do your best to stick to it. Turn your phone on silent and turn off vibrate.
- Meditation. Keeping our minds healthy keeps our hearts healthy too! Regular meditation practice could protect against heart disease. As the saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’ there are many ways to meditate and you don’t have to be a Guru to try it. Here’s a simple way to start. Sit quietly and close your eyes. Breathe slowly. Relax all of your muscles, beginning with your feet, legs, and thighs. Shrug your shoulders and roll your neck to the left and then right. On each exhalation, say the word “peace” out loud or to yourself. When your thoughts wander (and they will), don’t get discouraged. Simply go back to repeating the pattern. Continue for five to 10 minutes. Try this every day or at least a few times a week and you’ll soon be on your way to a more chilled version of yourself, along with a healthier heart and mind. Namaste!
- Walk. One of the simplest ways of keeping your heart healthy is to simply walk. A 30-minute walk a day can decrease the risk of Cardiovascular disease. Choose a realistic time that suits you, be it first thing in the morning, on your lunch break or after you have finished work for the day. Walk with someone (if you aren’t in tier three of course) if that will motivate you more.
So there you have it! 5 simple ways to keep your heart healthy. Of course, there are many more ways in which to keep your heart healthy but with everyone having different ways of living their life, some ways are easier and more realistic than others. Be kind to your heart, start looking after it today.