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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heart Healthy Tips


15 Heart Heathy Tips for today

1. STOP SMOKING. No ifs ands or butts

2. FOCUS ON THE MIDDLE. Your middle, that is. You don't have to be super-thin to reap the benefits of a smaller waistline, but according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, carrying too much weight around the middle raises blood pressure, affects blood lipids (and not in a good way), and does other damage to the heart. Abdominal exercises are good, but remember: it's calories in (what you eat) and calories out (how you exercise) that will make a difference.

3.  LET THE MUSIC MOVE YOU. Whether it's a rumba beat or a two-step tune that gets your body moving, dancing raises your heart rate, burns some calories (between 150-300 calories an hour), and makes for a great heart-healthy workout.

4.  LOL. Not in an email, not on Twitter or Facebook, but really: laugh out loud. Whether you like watching Family Guy or Seinfeld reruns, if it gets you chuckling, it's good for your heart. Research from the University of Maryland Medical Center shows that laughter helps relieve the stress that damages the endothelium, the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels and helps your blood flow. It also promotes the healthy function of blood vessels.

5.  STRETCH IT OUT. Practicing yoga makes you more limber and helps you relax, which combats stress. However, according to recent research from the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, it also positively affects the heart rate variability (HRV), which is an indicator for heart health.

6.  RAISE A GLASS. Moderate consumption of alcohol can raise your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, reduce blood clot formation, and help prevent artery damage. Some studies say red wine offers more benefits than other alcoholic beverages. Other studies conflict with this. The answer is moderation. Talk to your doctor about potential benefits and risks.

7.  SHUN THE SALT. Overwhelming research in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that if the entire US population reduced its salt intake to just a half teaspoon a day, we would significantly reduce the number of new cases of coronary heart disease. The studies also concluded that salt is one of the leading culprits in fueling the rise in healthcare costs in America. Most of our high salt intake comes from processed food and restaurant-prepared food. Think twice before filling up on your favorite fast-food fix.  

8.  EAT CHOCOLATE. No guilt required. Rich, dark chocolate not only tastes delicious, the flavonoids it contains can help stave off heart disease according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Preliminary research by Johns Hopkins also suggests that chocolate can positively affect blood clotting.

9.  LET HOUSEWORK WORK FOR YOU. Vacuuming or mopping the floors may not be as invigorating as a Body Slam or Zumba class, but these activities and other household chores do burn calories. Put your favorite music on, and put some pep in your weekly chores.

10.  BE A KID. Fitness doesn't have to be boring. Plan an evening out roller skating, swimming, golfing, or bowling. Do both, and you can burn (on average) around 600 calories, according to the Mayo Clinic.

11.  PET THERAPY. Our pets give us more than unconditional love; they offer numerous health benefits. Studies reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that owning pets can lower the rate of dying from heart disease and possibly improve heart and lung function.

12.  TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE HOME.  Put down your cell phone, forget about the driver who cut you off, and enjoy the ride. Eliminating stress while driving will help lower your blood pressure, which your cardiovascular system will appreciate.

13.  SMILE. Good dental hygiene does more than keep your pearly whites glistening. It may affect your overall health. Research from Harvard suggests that several types of cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, may be connected to oral health.

14.  PUMP SOME IRON.  Aerobic activities may be the star players in fitness for a healthy heart, but strength training needs to be part of the team. Its effect on weight control is awesome—more muscle mass means burning more calories. The American Heart Association gives strength training a thumbs-up for lowering the risk of heart disease.

15.  FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE.  A sunny outlook is good for your heart. Research from the University College London shows that those who are happy tend to have lower levels of the potentially harmful hormone cortisol and other stress-inducing chemicals.