Practicing a balance of healthy lifestyle habits is the best way to achieve optimal cardiovascular function. Incorporate the following into your daily routine to help promote the health of your heart:
- Exercise. Regular physical activity helps maintain the health of blood vessels, strengthens the heart muscle itself and can help reduce heart disease risk factors including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and stress. Aim for 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity on most days of the week. You may also add strength training (with weights or resistance bands) and/or high intensity interval training to the mix – discuss with your physician. For individual guidance on form and technique, consult a personal trainer.
- Lose weight. If you are overweight or obese, even modest weight loss can significantly lower risks of cardiovascular disease.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking is the major preventable risk factor for heart disease and has negative health consequences for your entire body, from your taste buds to your energy levels to your skin. Seek support and guidance in quitting.
- Manage stress. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, influence cholesterol and may even increase homocysteine levels, a marker of cardiovascular risk. To help manage day-to-day challenges, practice breath work, meditation, guided imagery, visualization or another relaxation technique; participate in regular moderate exercise (including yoga and tai chi); and stay social and laugh often.
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