5 Lifestyle Changes to Maintain Heart Health

how to practice self-care
Mia Barnes
Mia Barnes Contributer

There are plenty of reasons to take better care of your heart. Perhaps the best is that diseases of this organ remain the No. 1 killer — heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes kill more people each year than any other condition. 

Many people don’t know how to care for their cardiac health. They mistakenly believe it takes grueling workouts like marathon training or sticking to a strict vegan, low-fat diet. 

There’s no need to go to extremes. Small, everyday improvements are the best way to care for your ticker. Here are five lifestyle changes to maintain heart health. 

1. Plant a Victory Garden 

Nearly everyone, even older adults and urban apartment dwellers, can get into the joy of growing things. Plants like tomatoes and green beans flourish in containers, and there are gardening tools and tricks available to those with mobility issues

How does this hobby help you maintain heart health? Consider the following benefits: 

  • Enjoy fresh, organic foods: Nutrition is key to maintaining heart health. Eating plenty of fresh, organic produce like the veggies you grow in your garden provide filling fiber to lower your cholesterol and various nutrients that support cardiovascular health. 
  • Get moving: Gardening is a great form of exercise for anyone. Those with a home plot, or who invest in one in a community garden, get moving in the great outdoors more often, elevating their heart rate with mild exercise they barely notice. If movement is a challenge, modifications can be made using stools, rakes, and other tools. 
  • Ease stress: Stress contributes to heart disease. Gardening is one of the most relaxing activities due to the rhythmic routines like making sure your garden has enough water, pulling weeds, and tending to the soil. 
  • The great outdoors: Studies have shown that being outdoors piques your five senses. It can help to reduce stress. Outdoor activities, like forest bathing, have proven to decrease blood pressure. Even gardening will get you out into the fresh air!

2. Rethink Your Commute 

Does sitting in traffic elevate your heart rate? This happens because your stress goes through the roof? Are there any alternatives that could boost your cardiovascular health? 

For example, using public transportation might take a bit longer, but it provides you with semi-quiet time — if you use headphones — to relax and read or do puzzles on your phone. 

E-bikes are now more affordable than ever, and they are a blast to ride, increasing your daily exercise quotient while still getting you to the office sweat-free. Walking is a fabulous option if it’s realistic for your schedule. 

3. Bake a Better Cake 

You need omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for optimal heart health. However, the problem with most American diets is the ratio. Although you should ideally consume a 4:1 proportion of omega-6 to omega-3s, many people eat anywhere between 10:1 and 30:1. 

Omega-3s are essential for cardiovascular health. They help reduce triglycerides, a type of fat that can clog arteries, slow plaque buildup, and lower arrhythmia chances. 

Omega-6s exist in vegetable oils — like the safflower, sunflower, and canola used in many processed meals and snacks. How can you consume fewer of these and more omega-3s? 

When baking, replace each ⅓ cup of vegetable oil with a full cup of ground flaxseeds. Flaxseeds have a preponderance of omega-3s in a 4:1 ratio, helping you balance your intake. 

4. Make Technology Work for You 

There’s a world of apps at your fingertips today that can help you maintain your heart health. For example, Flare Down, Wave, and Sprout assist you in tracking chronic disease symptoms so you can notice patterns and better manage your conditions before they worsen. 

Heart rate variability measures the time between heartbeats, and it shows the impact of stress on your heart throughout the day. You can find countless apps designed for today’s fitness watches that help you keep tabs on yours and suggest activities to improve your numbers. 

Products** are now out, too, that can give in an in-home EKG with the simple touch of fingertips to a pad. For example, Kardia, made by AliveCor, runs around $100 and can keep six different statistics on your heart health from home.

**MedShadow Foundation is a nonprofit that takes no money nor endorsements from the pharmaceutical industry, nor medical device manufacturers. MedShadow does not recommend particular brands or products. Speak with your healthcare professional to discuss ways to track your heart health. While we aim to provide helpful resources and alternatives to prevent the harmful side effects of medication, we do not offer medical advice nor should take the place of your doctors’ recommendations.

5. Stretch and Breathe Before Bed 

Stress is endemic in American society and can affect your cardiovascular health. A daily yoga and meditation routine, or even a scheduled time for some breathing exercises, can help you manage it more effectively, but few people think they have the time. 

The solution is to perform your routine in bed before going to sleep. A few gentle stretches followed by a guided meditation or yoga practice can ease you into dreamland, promote sound slumber to help your heart recover, and reduce your overall stress levels. 

Lifestyle Changes to Maintain Heart Health

You don’t have to embark on a radical training plan to maintain your heart health. The lifestyle changes above do the trick. 

Select one or more to implement into your life. You’ll thank yourself at your next checkup.

 

Healthy lifestyle changes can help you avoid medications and their side effects. To avoid unnecessary risks, MedShadow Foundation brings you research-based, unbiased wellness content to provide you with alternatives to help you, and those you love, reduce or eliminate your need for medications. All of our work is done free from pharmaceutical influence or funding.

DISCLAIMER: MedShadow provides information and resources related to medications, their effects, and potential side effects. However, it is important to note that we are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content on our site is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals dealing with medical conditions or symptoms should seek guidance from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a physician or pharmacist, who can provide personalized medical advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

While we strive to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented on MedShadow, we cannot guarantee its completeness or suitability for any particular individual's medical needs. Therefore, we strongly encourage users to consult with qualified healthcare professionals regarding any health-related concerns or decisions. By accessing and using MedShadow, you acknowledge and agree that the information provided on the site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and that you should always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

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