You probably already know that keeping your heart strong is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But maybe you wonder exactly how to maintain a healthy heart. What actions can you take daily to protect your cardiovascular system and, just as critically, make sure you aren’t doing more damage? These are questions we’ll answer below.
What Does It Mean to Have a Healthy Heart?
Maintaining a healthy heart is about reducing the risk of serious health conditions as you age. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Keeping your heart healthy can increase your quality of life now and into the future.
5 Things You Can Do to Help Maintain a Healthy Heart
Developing daily lifestyle habits can have a huge impact on your heart (and the rest of your body). Here are five areas you can focus on each day to support and maintain a healthy heart.
1. Replace Processed and Unhealthy Foods With Whole Foods, and Eat Less Salt
You don’t have to change your entire diet overnight, but little changes like these can add up over time:
- Google healthy versions of your favorite weekly meals and make one this week. (In general, work to cook at home more.)
- Replace a regular snack with cut up veggies and hummus or fruits.
- Replace white and refined grains with whole grains.
- Avoid trans fats and have healthy fats like omega 3s (Healthy fats can help you have good cholesterol levels, while trans fats increase your risk of stroke and heart disease.)
- Use less salt and utilize fresh or dried herbs and spices (like Mrs. Dash) instead.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. Drink more water or tea instead.
2. Keep Your Heart-Healthy Numbers in Mind, and Maintain Them
- Blood pressure
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Daily exercise
While you don’t need to check all of these daily, keep them in mind with the daily choices you make.
3. Pencil in Daily Movement and Exercise
It’s hard to make exercise a daily habit if it’s not in your schedule. Plan for moments of movements each day.
Take breaks from work to stand up and walk around. Get a gym membership or find at-home workout programs you enjoy. Get involved in a sport you love and see if there are local groups.
Look for physical activity opportunities that will fit your personality and work well with your life. Staying active is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy heart, and it’s easier to do once it becomes a regular part of your schedule.
4. Make Your Mental Health a Priority
Stress, loneliness, and depression can all be bad for the heart. If you are struggling, reach out for help. A good doctor and a healthy social support system are key for feeling in control and included.
Remember the importance of a better work-life balance and positive, deep connections with other human beings. Look for ways to connect with others more on a daily basis and remember that you’re never alone.
5. Avoid Smoke
If you currently smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your heart. However, secondhand smoke is also a real concern. Those who inhale smoke at home or work have a significantly higher chance of developing heart disease versus those who don’t.
To help maintain a healthy heart, avoid smoke as much as possible on a daily basis.
Bonus Tip: Practice Good Dental Hygiene
Did you know that your dental health may affect your heart health, too? Research has shown that those with gum disease typically have the same heart disease risk factors.
Keeping your teeth healthy on a daily basis means helping your heart, too. So, remember to brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily.
The Bottom Line
The above tips can help address common cardiovascular health concerns and support your heart throughout your lifetime. The key is to build up habits that become a regular part of your routine and a long-term lifestyle.