Of all the organs that make up the human physiology, the heart is arguably the most vital, and therefore informing oneself on how to take care of your heart and your family's, is something that all people should make a priority in one’s daily life and routine.
At the end of July 2020, I suffered a very unexpected heart attack. I eat right, I exercise and I manage my weight and health, however that still did not stop a small piece of plaque from breaking off in my heart and my body reacting by clotting it and closing the main artery to my heart 98%. Gratefully, I'm still alive to talk about it due to my reaction to the feelings I was having (mostly feeling faint) and calling for help.
Today, I want to share and hope you will consider the following five easy to implement ways to incorporate heart healthy activities into your daily regime and the daily life of your children:
1. REDUCE THE PRODUCTION AND RELEASE OF STRESS HORMONES
The CDC and Cleveland Clinic say that stress is a major contributor to heart disease. The production and subsequent release of stress hormones such as cortisol, or the hormones that are released during “fight or flight” response such epinephrine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, are an inevitable and natural process during existence, however, ifyou live an overly stressful life that lacks in adequate amounts of rest and relaxation, you will put an unsustainable amount of strain on your cardiovascular system which will in time have potentially fatal negative repercussions on your heart.
Incorporating any type of relaxing activity such as meditation, massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture, aromatherapy, or any other form of alternative medicine and relaxation therapy techniques into your daily routine will do wonders for your heart health, not to mention the impact that such practices will have on your overall happiness.
2. ADOPT A HEART HEALTHY DIET
The Mayo Clinic advises you to make a genuine and concerted effort toward incorporating foods that are rich in mono and poly unsaturated fats, essential fatty acids (Omega 3 – 6 – 9) and antioxidants into your regular diet. Contrary to what many people think, a heart healthy diet is not necessarily synonymous with bland, tasteless, or dull foods.
There are a myriad of delicious foods varying from avocadoes to dark chocolate (yes, I said dark chocolate HOORAY!!) that are rich in the substances that promote heart health and can be prepared in ways that protect your cardiovascular system while also satisfying your taste buds.
3. STAY ACTIVE
WebMd advises us that exercise is essential for heart health. Falling into the rut of living a consistently sedentary lifestyle is one of the worst ways to insult your heart and compromise your heart’s health. This is not to say that you need to run marathons or be a regular at the gym but making it a point to simply walk or jog for 20 minutes or so a few days per week will make a big difference in your cardiovascular well-being. In addition, taking a walk with your kids, is a great way to put the electronics down and turn up the conversation. This creates a tradition of physical fitness in your home.
Opting to take the stairs versus the elevator or choosing to park further away from the entrance of stores when running errands, are both simple, yet effective examples of ways in which to incorporate more physical exercise into your everyday life. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, so not only will your heart be happier, but your mind and mood will as well.
4. AVOID POLLUTED AIR
Depending on where you live, avoiding polluted air may be far easier said than done, however pollutant particles tend to be at their highest concentration levels early in the morning, so if you live in a city like Los Angeles, CA, plan your outdoor activities for afternoon and evening, since multiple studies have revealed a correlation between inhaling pollutants and arterial damage. Fresh air does a body good, so start planning afternoon picnics and park time with the kids or before dinner time. It’s also a great way to burn everyone’s energy so that we all sleep better.
5. GET ENOUGH (BUT NOT TOO MUCH) GOOD QUALITY SLEEP
There is a lot of documented evidence linking the amount, the timing, and the quality of your sleep with heart health. Some studies have shown that those who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia have almost a 50% higher chance of developing some form of cardiovascular disease than those who are able to get an average of 8 hours of quality, restful sleep at a time. A consistent bedtime and waketime will reward everyone in your family with better sleep.
Surprisingly, it has been proven, that sleeping over 9 hours a night on a regular basis can be damaging to your heart’s health via secondary conditions such as depression or obesity.
Where do you think you need to improve?