6 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

The facts regarding heart health in the United States are rather grim. Not only is heart disease the number one cause of death in the country for both men and women alike — the frequency is so high that 1 in every 4 deaths is attributed to the condition. And nearly 12 percent of all adults have been diagnosed with the disease.

Now for some good news: even though uncontrollable factors such as genetics and age do play some role in the condition, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 80% of all cases could be prevented with lifestyle changes. Your future is in your hands: make the decision to get healthy now and a long, active life can be yours!

Here are a few important factors that can help you improve your heart health:

Increase your heart rate daily

Your heart is a muscle — and just like any other muscle, regular exertion helps strengthen it. As your heart becomes stronger, it becomes more efficient, thus lowering your blood pressure and your resting heart rate.

Improve cholesterol

Your blood contains a certain type of lipids known as cholesterol that help create hormones, vitamin D, and other important chemicals. Certain types of cholesterol work efficiently without causing any problems — whereas others are less efficient and can clog up arteries, increasing your risk for heart attack or stroke. Exercise helps regulate your cholesterol, promoting the good kind and reducing the bad kind.

Cut down on sugar and salt

The link between salt and high blood pressure is as simple as it is famous: salt increases water retention, and the extra water stored in the body raises your blood pressure. Less known is the fact that sugar is just as harmful. The relationship between sugar and high blood pressure, however, is bit more indirect and complex. For one, sugar leads to weight gain. Secondly, because sugary foods are usually nutritionally empty, they can deprive you of the vitamins and minerals that your heart needs. Last but not least, sugar also causes the liver to produce a type of fat known as triglycerides, which can spike bad cholesterol and increase blood pressure.

Meditate

Science has shown that people who meditate regularly have fewer heart attacks and lower blood pressure. So whether you enjoy the simplicity of breathing exercises or the active meditation of tai chi, finding a meditation that works for you can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Reduce stress

The body and mind are connected in a myriad of ways. In fact, one of the reasons why scientists believe that meditation helps lower blood pressure and promote a healthy heart is because meditation is a great way of managing stress. Changing your work hours, improving your relationships, journaling, participating in hobbies, and establishing a daily routine are all additional ways of reducing your stress levels.

Get more sleep

Sleep is your body’s way of resting and recharging — and sleep deprivation is associated with many negative health conditions, ranging from anxiety to diabetes to high blood pressure.