When you think of cardiovascular health, what first comes to mind? Regardless of diet, lifestyle, or physical changes, your heart should always be properly loved. This organ is vitally responsible for just about everything that gives us life, yet heart disease remains the leading cause of death in both men and women in America. While this is a sobering statistic, there are simple, everyday lifestyle choices you can make that will positively affect your ticker … and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time!
Here are 10 ways for you to stay heart healthy in 10 minutes or less:
- Eat your colors. Thanks to the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, fresh produce is teeming with heart-healthy benefits. Try to incorporate at least three servings of different colored vegetables a day for optimal health.
- Start the day off right. For a quick, heart-healthy option in the morning, try adding fruit to a serving of fiber-filled grains (like oatmeal, bran flakes, or whole-wheat toast). This combination will increase satiety and help reduce cholesterol levels, which is great for overall heart health. Try my maple berry granola for inspiration!
- Stretch your legs. You don’t have to run an hour a day to achieve heart health benefits. In fact, walking briskly for 10 to 20 minutes a day will greatly improve lung function and help prevent heart problems. Try to incorporate movement in your everyday routine, like taking the stairs, parking farther away, or walking at lunch.
- Go nuts. Thanks to heart-healthy fats, nuts like walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and pistachios can help improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular disease. Instead of grabbing a typical snack food (like chips or cookies), try reaching for a handful of nuts. You can also add nuts to salads or yogurt for a delightful crunch or use them in place of meat for protein.
- Reduce consumption of sugar-laden drinks. Drinking less sugary beverages (like soda, calorie-laden lattes, and energy drinks) is not only heart-healthy it’s also good for weight management and your overall health. Instead, go for flat or sparkling water infused with fruit or enjoy herbal or regular iced tea with no sugar added.
- Build muscle tone. Looking to improve heart health through exercise? Start by lifting things! Whether it’s a ten-pound dumbbell or two heavy grocery bags, lifting heavy objects a few times a day can help tone your arm muscles.
- Eat more seafood. Fatty fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Try to incorporate seafood (such as salmon, pollock, canned tuna, sardines, or halibut) in your diet 2-3 times each week for added health benefits.
- Practice slow breathing. Lower your blood pressure by breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes every day. It can help you relax, slow your mind, and calm your senses.
- Rub-a-dub-dub, scrub those hands. Flu season is tough on everyone, so do yourself (and your heart) a favor by washing your hands with soap and water often throughout the day. Sickness can be hard on your heart, so stay healthy and practice good hygiene.
- Be thankful. Take a moment every day to acknowledge the blessings in your life. Thinking positive thoughts have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being, just as their opposite counterparts — chronic anger, worry, and hostility — contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.