February may be American Heart Month but caring for your heart should be something you do every day, not just during a certain part of the year. Your heart is constantly at work, pumping over 100,000 times per day and circulating 1.5 gallons of blood per minute – pretty amazing, right? Its main role in your body is to pump blood to deliver oxygen to every part of your body, including your brain. However, your heart can’t do this pivotal work if it’s not given the tools it needs to succeed, which is why it’s important to support your cardiovascular health in any way you can. Putting the work in via diet, exercise, and healthy habits now will pay off in the future.
Here are a few simple ways to keep your heart healthy every day.
Move your body.
Regular sweat sessions are essential to caring for your heart. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity (like brisk walking, dancing, gardening, or water aerobics) or 75 minutes of intense activity (running, swimming laps, cycling, hiking) per week, plus weights and strength training.
If you’re an exercise newbie (no shame in that!), start with regular walks in 10-minute increments or try a few YouTube beginner’s cardio dance or aerobics to see what you vibe with. If you’re having trouble finding the time to exercise – a common problem in our world of packed schedules and Zoom meetings – consider scheduling 30 minutes with yourself five days a week and keeping that workout session the way you’d stick to an appointment.
Sit less and find new ways to be active.
Even standing up more can make an impact on your heart health. Set a time or program your smart watch or fitness tracker to remind you to stand up for at least a minute every hour. Try to incorporate a stand-up desk or find movement whenever you can, even if that’s taking the stairs or parking a little further away from the grocery store door. Even some particularly active housework counts!
Find ways to destress.
Stress can have a huge impact on your heart health, especially when you’re experiencing frequent, chronic stress. Lighten the load if you can, whether that’s by saying no to things you don’t have bandwidth or space for, setting clear boundaries, or incorporating daily rituals that help you relax and calm down, like journaling, yoga, kickboxing, practicing mindfulness – whatever! Turn off the phone or laptop hours before bed, go for a walk when you’re hitting your limit, and learn how to de-escalate stressful situations. If your stress levels are negatively impacting your health, it may be worth reaching out to a healthcare professional for help.
Have a hobby – or three! – you love.
Regularly taking time to do the things that bring you joy, like painting, music, reading, or crafting, can be an enjoyable way to destress and thus, positively impact your heart health. To expand your hobby horizons, try a few things you’ve been curious about and see what clicks; there’s no pressure to be perfect at your hobby! As long as you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.
Adopt a dog or cat.
Owning a pet has more perks than just cuddles and cuteness. When you have a dog, you’re more likely to be active keeping up with walks, fetch, and dog park visits. Some studies have even shown a link between pet ownership and lower blood pressure.
Go to the dentist regularly – and keep up with your oral health at home.
Keep up on those dental visits. Some studies have shown a link between gum disease and the risk of heart disease, so get back into the habit of flossing and brushing after every meal.
Eat more fish.
Sushi, salmon, and sardines all have benefits for your heart health. Fatty fish contains omega-3s, which have been shown to support heart health. Some of the best options to add to your plate include salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel.
If you live a vegetarian lifestyle but still want to reap the benefits of omega-3s, consider adding an omega-3 supplement to your lineup. Fisol® Fish Oil supports cardiovascular and joint health with 50% EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.*
If you’re vegan, you’ll love NutraVege® Omega-3 Plant – it supports heart and eye health with plant-based DHA and EPA from algae.*
Heat it up.
Serve up a spicy meal more frequently and you could enjoy more than just dynamic flavors. Studies have shown that regularly eating spicy food, like chili peppers or chili sauce, can potentially be associated with lower risk of mortality from heart disease. Add some chili to your AM eggs or grab takeout from a local spot known for its heat levels to spice things up in the kitchen.
Laugh it off.
Cue up your favorite Netflix stand-up specials or classic sitcoms or call up your childhood BFF to reminisce about the old days. Anything that gets you laughing is good for your heart! Certain studies have shown that your arteries function better during and after prolonged laughter.