The heart is an important part of your cardiovascular system. It acts as a pump for your blood, making sure your entire body gets the oxygen that it needs. The heart has a lot of special adaptations making it the only type of muscle to pretty much never get tired.
But just because your heart has superpowers, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to look after it and make sure that your heart and cardiovascular system as a whole are as healthy as they can be.
There are many ways that you can improve your cardiovascular health, both big and small. Here are some of the best.
Small ways to improve your cardiovascular health
1. Little walks
Walking is a great way to get your body moving and your heart pumping. It also helps with digestion and overall wellbeing. You don’t have to walk for hours, even just a ten-minute walk after meals will do wonders.
2. Lift little weights
Lifting small items like heavy books or 2-pound weights will work your muscles and tone them up while causing your heart to work harder. When this becomes easier, you can increase the weight that you lift to continue building muscle and improving on your heart health.
3. Eat an extra fruit or vegetable
Fruit and vegetables are low in calories, fill you up, and provide your body with important micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (carbs, fiber, protein). They’re good for every part of you, including your heart.
4. Keep the calories for eating
Drinks are often filled with empty calories. That means that they have little to no nutritional value and don’t fill you up. While they can be part of a balanced diet, it’s best to keep the calories to nutritional foods or smoothies.
5. Have a great breakfast
A lot of people miss the importance of breakfast. A good breakfast should contain plenty of fiber, protein, and some kind of fruit. A bowl of overnight oats, oatmeal, whole-grain bread, or bran flakes are versatile choices for all kinds of variations.
6. Have some seafood
Instead of red meat, try having more seafood. It’s full of a variety of micronutrients and has a lot less fat. Salmon is one of the best proteins that you can have for heart health. Having seafood will also expand your rotation of recipes and add more variety into your life.
7. Be mindful
Taking short mindfulness breaks at regular intervals can help reduce stress, blood pressure, and bad moods, all of which contribute to cardiovascular health.
Big ways to improve your cardiovascular health
1. Quit smoking
As difficult as it is to quit, smoking is one of the most detrimental things that you can do for your heart so it’s important to commit to quitting. If at first you don’t succeed, switch tactics and try and try again. There are many different methods to quit smoking, so with some luck and a lot of effort you can definitely do it!
2. Lose fat by making lifestyle changes
Losing fat is done by being in a caloric deficit. This means that the calories you burn in a day are less than your calorie intake over a long period of time. How you achieve this is by making changes to your diet and exercising.
It’s not about cutting out carbs or only eating salads: instead it’s about focusing on making meals that you like, hitting your macros and micros, learning more about what you specifically need, and having a well-rounded, balanced diet.
Additionally, exercising is about finding a way to move that makes you happy (or that you can at least tolerate). This makes it realistic and ensures that you look forward to doing the activity rather than dreading it.
Making changes to your lifestyle like this ensures that the changes are sustainable and that you won’t binge-eat or crash.
3. Find a way to relieve stress
Having hobbies or past times that you genuinely enjoy and find engaging do wonders for your heart because they make you happy. This is different from just sitting around watching TV or scrolling through social media – you must be actively participating in the activity to reap the benefits.
Additionally, you might also de-stress in ways like having a bubble bath, going for a hike, swimming, or doing an activity like visiting a museum. Do whatever brings you joy and brings your stress levels down.
4. Connect with your loved ones more
And finally, connecting with the ones who you love and who love you is one of the best ways to look after your heart. Your body as a whole doesn’t do well without positive social interaction because humans are social creatures.
Not only will connecting with loved ones reduce stress, it will also bring you more joy, peace, and wellbeing. You can even do so in combination with an activity for added benefit, such as walking, hiking, swimming, or going for a run together.
The heart of the issue
Modern life can make it difficult to take care of your cardiovascular health. Constant pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, and the lack of time to take care of your diet and exercise are a recipe for cardiovascular disaster.
But with these ideas, hopefully you can see that it’s not so difficult to take better care of your heart. It’s the least you can do as it takes care of you.