Love Your Heart: 10 Fun Ways To Healthier Heart
We all know that eating right and exercising are good for your heart. But, if you’re looking to improve your heart health, we’ve got some more fun ways to try!
1. Eat more chocolate
A little dark chocolate is good for your heart! Specifically, polyphenols (the healthy stuff) found in cocoa beans have been linked to lower blood pressure and lower rates of heart attack, heart disease and heart failure.
2. Take a vacation
There are several studies on the health benefits of taking a vacation. Aside from the obvious benefits of reduced stress levels, lower depression and better quality sleep, A little time away from work is also good for the heart. One study showed that women who vacation only every few years (compared with those who vacation twice a year) are eight times more likely to develop heart disease, have a heart attack or die of a coronary-related problem.
3. Get more sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep can be very heart healthy! The American Heart Association recommends regularly getting seven to nine hours for optimal benefits. The “danger zone” is for those who get less than six hours of sleep, which has been linked to a host of cardiovascular risks, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.
4. Raise your glass
In moderation, it appears that the antioxidants (specifically reservatrol) in red wine may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup. However, most healthcare professionals would recommend seeking these benefits out through alternative methods: eating red grapes, for example.
5. Bust a gut
Maybe laughter really is the best medicine. Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center have discovered that laughing has heart-healthy benefits! Laughing produces nitric oxide in the hypothalamus. Nitric oxide actually reduces inflammation and prevents the production of cholesterol plaque.
6. Crank the tunes
European scientists have discovered that listening to your favorite music releases heart-healthy hormones. The hormones (called endorphins) help to improve overall vascular (blood vessels) health. Keeping your blood vessels healthy is one key to a strong heart and brain!
7. Hang with your best friend
Dogs are pawsome! Did you know that dog owners are less likely to get heart disease? Yes, dog owners walk more and have lower blood pressure than people who don’t have dogs.
Deep breathing can lower stress and blood pressure. To slow down your breathing, try taking 10 breaths per minute instead of the average 16 to 19. Research from the National Institute on Aging has shown that “shallow breathing (more beats per minute) may delay your body’s excretion of salt, a high-blood-pressure trigger.”
9. Time for tea
The flavenoids in tea help fight inflammation. Inflammation can cause deterioration of the arteries’ lining, which allows plaque to build up. Plaque build up, in turn, can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Be careful not to negate the health benefits of tea by overloading it with sugar, though!
10. Have more sex
Good news! A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that men who had sex at least twice a week were less likely to develop heart disease compared to men who only had sex once per month. Sex can promote feelings of wellbeing, lower pain levels and help with more restful sleep.
Taking care of your heart should be a priority for anyone who wants to live a long and healthy life. For more great ways to keep your heart beating, check out a few more science-backed tips from the American Heart Association here.