Daily Routines to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Making changes in your lifestyle to keep your heart healthy may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If the commonest advice (join a gym or go on a diet) seems daunting, try making small daily changes that improve your health in the long run and are easy to incorporate into your life. Here are a few ideas for keeping that muscle in tip-top condition without having to make radical changes in your life:
Always eat breakfast. Coffee and a muffin may kick-start your energy in the morning, but that uptick in energy will last longer if you substitute oatmeal or whole-grain toast for the muffin. Add lean protein like peanut butter to your toast, or if you feel ambitious, whip up an egg white omelet with fresh chopped vegetables or turkey bacon Follow this with a mid-morning snack of fruit or a handful of nuts. Your energy level and your heart will thank you.
Many of us have a pantries loaded with ingredients we reach for automatically when we are cooking or preparing food. Try a simple re-stocking and keep only the heart-healthy oils like olive oil for cooking and grapeseed or walnut oil for salads. Switch the white rice for brown; ditch sugary cold cereals for high-fiber cereals; whole milk for low-fat or skim; white pasta for whole wheat. Keep canned tomatoes, tuna, aromatic vinegar, nuts and peanut butter; switch out salt for a seasonings blend that uses little or no salt in it, but still adds appetizing flavorings to food.
You don’t have to join a gym or commit to a rock-climbing class in order to add some movement to your daily routine. You can simply add a little here and there to add up to an amount of daily activity that will help your heart stay healthy. If you’re heading for the mall, park further away than you normally would and use the stairs instead of the elevator. Increase your steps with a short walk at lunch or walk the dog a little further, vacuum for five extra minutes, switch the radio from talk shows to music and dance.
Stress is a ticking time bomb that can increase your blood pressure, weaken your immune system, interrupt your sleep and make you feel lethargic and depressed. Taking a class in yoga or meditation may not be the answer for you right now, but you can find something much closer to home to help you de-stress on a daily basis. If you enjoy crafting – whether it’s knitting, making model airplanes or doing jigsaw puzzles – make time to relax with something you like doing every day.
Current research indicates that laughing can decrease inflammation in your arteries and raise your levels of the “good cholesterol” HLD (high-density lipoprotein). So turn off the news and watch a funny YouTube video or sit-com as part of your daily heart health routine, because laughing is good for your heart!