February is Heart Health Awareness Month so why not start the month off right by adopting some heart healthy routines. Here is a list of our top 5 simple, holistic tips to help keep your heart healthy and happy.
1. Relax. Relaxation promotes the release of endorphins, the feel good hormones, which counteract stress hormones. A reduced level of stress hormones and increased level of endorphins promotes relaxed blood vessels, improving blood flow and oxygenation to your heart. Relax by receiving a Healing Touch treatment, meditating, taking a nap, laughing, spending time with a pet or loved one, deep breathing or stopping to smell the roses. Anything you do to reduce stress will promote heart health by reducing your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
2. Practice gratitude. When we express feelings of gratitude, compassion and love our heart rhythm becomes smooth and harmonious promoting a balanced nervous and cardiovascular system. A balanced circulatory system creates positive changes in heart rate variability thus decreasing your risk for fatal heart rhythm irregularities. Practice gratitude by starting a Gratitude Journal where you simply write what you are grateful for each day.
3. Get some exercise. Exercising for 30-60 minutes a day, most days helps control your weight and reduces the risk of developing other heart straining conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. You can break up your physical activities in to 10 minutes intervals, 3-6 times a day. Activities like gardening, walking the dog, taking the stairs, playing with children, walking, sex and housekeeping count towards your goal!
4. Eat a heart-healthy diet. Eating foods low in cholesterol and salt help prevent high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats or proteins. Reducing your intake of saturated and trans fat foods will reduce your risk for coronary artery disease by keeping your blood cholesterol levels in check. Drinking alcohol in moderation will also help keep your heart healthy.
5. Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to the narrowing of your arteries, increasing your risk for a heart attack. Tobacco can also increase your heart rate and blood pressure forcing your heart to work harder to supply oxygen to your body.
If heart disease runs in your family, remember to get regular medical check- ups to screen your risks for heart disease. Screenings include checking your blood pressure and heart rate, monitoring your weight and body mass index, watching your cholesterol levels and risks for diabetes. Maintaining a heart healthy life style will still reduce your risk for heart disease even if it “runs in your family.” Use the month of February to begin heart healthy habits that will last a lifetime!