Keeping your heart healthy is so important. For so long we have been told to attach purely superficial goals to our health and wellness journeys, from getting leaner arms to sculpted abs. And while that's fine if you really aspire to leaner arms or more sculpted abs, there are also other things to consider when it comes to keeping fit and healthy. You see, exercising with the goal of a healthy heart should be enough since, you know, without a heartbeat we cease to exist.
With that in mind, I did my ticker a favor and carried out some research, plus called on Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, cardiologist at The Mount Sinai Hospital and American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red for Women volunteer medical expert, to reveal her top tips for a healthy heart. Keep scrolling for nine ways to keep your heart healthy.
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Take This Supplement
"The American Heart Association recommends that healthy people get adequate nutrients by eating a variety of foods in moderation, rather than by taking supplements," notes Steinbaum. "But an exception exists for omega 3 fatty acid supplements for those with heart disease or high triglycerides."
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Drink wine!
Yay! But don't get too excited. According to the VeryWell, antioxidant-rich red wine, in particular, can be beneficial to your heart. But don't reach for the whole bottle quite so fast; you should still stick to the recommended guidelines of one glass per day.
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Exercise
"The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week," says Steinbaum. "You can include moderate-to-high intensity muscle-strengthening activities (such as resistance or weights) at least 2 days per week, too.
…And Make It Fun!
If you are going to stick to exercise you have to enjoy it. "So make that 150+ minutes of movement fun. Dance, go roller skating, try skipping! Anything that gets your heart rate up is helpful," notes Steinbaum.
According to the AHA, laughing can reduce stress hormones, lower inflammation in your arteries and raise your good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL). Click here for five ways to wake up happy each day, according to a laughter therapist.
Then there is sex. According to research in the American Journal of Cardiology Trusted Source, higher rates of cardiovascular diseased correlated to less sexual activity. Click here for what happens to your brain when you have sex, as well as seven yoga poses to help you have better sex.
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Slip Into a Sauna
"A trip to the sauna encourages relaxation and may help someone de-stress," says Steinbaum. "As we know from a recent survey, stress impacts health, especially when it comes to eating habits. So, if you’re able to better manage stress, you’re likely to make better food choices, and therefore be more heart-healthy, too."
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Get Your Teeth Professionally Cleaned
According to the Harvard Medical School, people with gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular events. While research findings haven't been able to pinpoint and exact link, keeping your teeth clean and healthy is important and if it helps keep your heart healthy too, then that's a bonus.
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Know Your Family History
"Heart health isn’t a one size fits all. It is impacted by genetics...and a person’s family health history plays a role, too," says Steinbaum. Speak to your doctor to get some insights into what is likely to work for you based on your family history.
That said, the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” guide is a good start, says Steinbaum. "Getting active, eating better, losing weight, controlling cholesterol, managing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar, and quitting smoking generally improve heart health."
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Factor in Fiber
If you're feeling stressed and fear your levels of HDL (good cholesterol) could be low, try packing your meals with fiber. According to VeryWell, soluble fiber can help lower your level of low-density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol). Think apples, avocado, lentils, chickpeas, oats, almonds, chia seeds and popcorn.
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Adopt a Dog
Okay, so this isn't doable for everyone, but the Harvard Medical School reports that owning a dog is linked to lower cholesterol and reduced blood pressure. This is partly due to the calming effect of owning a dog, but also the increased exercise of daily walking.