4 Everyday Habits to Improve Your Heart Health
February is American Heart Month, and today we are going to talk about four things we can do every day to improve the health of our hearts. What healthy habits should you focus on every day?
1. Exercise the right way.
We'll lead it off with exercise. Exercise is very special, and it's very important to do it right.
Exercising too much can be very detrimental to your health, to the health of your joints, to the health of your heart.
So exercising at the right level is key. I like to adhere to the maximum aerobic function heart rate.
Take your age and subtract it from 180. If you are 50 years old, you subtract 50 from 180. You receive the answer of 130. You would try to keep your heart rate at all times below 130.
Another way to check this is if you can breathe smoothly through the nose. Of course, if you can reach 130, that's great, but if you need to open your mouth to reach 130, then the suggestion is to reduce your speed, reduce your exertion level.
What this does is protect the heart by keeping you from exercising too hard for too long. And because you're exercising at the right exertion level, you can do this every single day.
Of course, when we do something every day, it becomes a habit. It becomes something like brushing our teeth. We do it every day. It's completely normal. It's completely expected, and there is kind of no question about it.
2. Select the right food.
The next topic we will discuss in terms of heart health is proper food selection. My two favorite foods for heart health are wild fish, such as canned sardines, canned mackerel, or wild salmon, and really spicy olive oil.
Canned sardines, canned mackerel, and wild salmon are super high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are really healthy for the heart.
And I say spicy olive oil because if you take a teaspoon and you pretty much drink it, if it's spicy at the back of your throat, that means it has anti-inflammatory compounds that are especially good for your heart.
I switch out these two things. Most often I won't have both every single day, but I try to make sure that I'm getting healthy fats every day in some fashion for my heart health.
3. Find time to relax.
The next suggestion is to do a little bit of relaxation and response meditation. This has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
When we do a relaxation response meditation, what we can do is find a prayer, find an affirmation, find a mantra and repeat it over, and over, and over again.
When a thought comes into your head, as quickly as possible with as little stress as possible, you go back to your prayer, your mantra, your affirmation. This has been shown to help people reduce their blood pressure.
4. Focus on sleeping well.
The last suggestion I'll make today for daily activities is to sleep well. Lots of sleep researchers think that humans need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
Ways to get quality sleep? Adjust the light exposure in your room. Some people use blackout curtains or special shades or shutters. This can help.
Some people benefit from noise. It can be white noise like a fan going off and of course, they sell these all over the place. Or there's something called pink noise. Some people like the noise of humans, as weird as that sounds, in the background. So there are YouTube channels that have that kind of noise. Play around with it. There are tons of options and you might find one that really helps.
And the last suggestion for sleep right now is to keep your room at the proper temperature. 62 degrees to 67 degrees is recommended by a lot of sleep researchers, and oftentimes we might sleep too hot and that can interfere with sleep because it's not comfortable. Likewise, if it's too cold, it might not be comfortable and that can reduce the quality of our sleep.
Work on your health with PartnerMD's health coaches.
Access to our certified health coaches is included for PartnerMD members as part of their concierge medicine membership.
Not a member yet? With offices in Richmond, VA; Midlothian, VA; Short Pump, VA; McLean, VA; Baltimore, MD; Greenville, SC; and Atlanta, GA, you can experience primary care built around you, one focused on wellness and prevention to help you stay as healthy as possible, as long as possible. Learn more about health coaching as part of membership at PartnerMD.