Wondering how to strengthen your heart? You’re probably aware of the benefits of good cardiovascular health. There are plenty of common tips and tricks to maintain a strong heart, but you may be interested in these 10 sneaky ways to improve heart health.
Why Is Heart Health Important?
The heart is one of the most important organs. However, heart disease is the leading cause of death in almost every age, gender, race and ethnic group. Since everyone shares relatively high risk, you benefit from improving your heart and lowering your blood pressure no matter who you are.
1. Monitor Your Heart Rate
Monitoring your heart rate can help you improve heart health because it lets you know how much work you need to put in. A regular resting heart rate can be anything from 60 beats per minute to 100, but you’ll improve your heart functions by lowering yours. Paying attention to it establishes a baseline for your health and lets you know how much you must improve.
2. Limit Salty Foods
You can make a difference in your heart health in only a few weeks simply by cutting out salty foods. Salt forces your body to hold onto water, so eating too much of it increases the water in your blood — putting extra pressure on your blood vessels and heart.
It even applies to foods that are typically healthy. For example, over salting a chicken breast can make it unhealthy and bad for cardiovascular health. Most people love food with a lot of salt, but using other seasonings to protect your heart is worth it.
3. Stop at One Drink
Having a glass of wine at night may improve heart health, but drinking more than that — four or more in two hours — causes long-term increases in blood pressure. There are mixed studies on the topic, but it’s safe to assume that alcohol isn’t inherently good for you. If you want to keep drinking, stop at one to help your heart.
4. Breath Deeply
Meditation or breathing exercises might be just what you need if you’re looking for a sneaky way to boost your cardiovascular health. Breathing slowly and deeply tricks your body into thinking it’s relaxed even when you’re stressed, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s easy and beneficial for your health.
5. Change Your Weight
Your weight can significantly affect your heart. Higher weight causes high blood pressure and can put stress on the heart, damaging your overall cardiovascular health. Low weight is also detrimental — your heart may not get the necessary nutrients to function regularly. A healthy weight looks different for everyone, but losing or gaining a few pounds can help your heart and lower your risk for related diseases.
6. Start Aerobics
Swimming, biking and jogging are enjoyable activities, but some athletics are more beneficial for the heart than others. While aerobic activities are excellent for cardiovascular health, swimming has particularly great benefits.
If you’re wondering how to strengthen your heart to reduce the risk of heart disease even further, it’s the best exercise. In fact, working out in warm water lowers blood pressure over time and ultimately strengthens your heart. You’re probably aware that exercise and health are related, but you probably didn’t know swimming has doubled the benefits.
7. Quit Smoking
While it’s generally understood that smoking is bad for your health, it actually affects your heart in sneaky ways. For example, a smoker’s first sign of cardiovascular problems likely will be a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke. It usually affects the heart in ways that go unnoticed — until the worst-case scenario happens.
To avoid those risks, you should cut out smoking entirely. It can be a challenging habit to kick, but it massively benefits your heart to do so.
8. Use Different Oil
It’s common knowledge that eating fish or leafy greens can benefit your heart, but fewer people know that oil can work just as well. In fact, switching the oil you cook with to nut, seed or canola oil is excellent for your cardiovascular health overall. You can still enjoy fried foods if you switch over to a heart-healthy oil.
9. Drink More Water
Water is essential to function in general, but it specifically improves your cardiovascular health. Most people know they should drink a certain amount of water each day, but they might not know it reduces their risk of heart failure significantly. Even if you don’t have multiple glasses daily, drinking water regularly does a lot for your heart.
10. Cut Out Soda
Many people enjoy soda — you might have a few cans sitting in your fridge right now. Even though they’re tasty, you’d be doing your heart a favor by throwing them out. Drinking even one sugary drink in a day raises your risk of heart disease significantly, so you’re not better off if you limit how much you drink.
You should cut out all drinks with excess sugar because they’re just as bad. For example, many people think diet soda is healthier because it swaps sugar with artificial sweeteners, but it carries the same risk to your heart health.
Improve Heart Health With These Tips
If you’re wondering how to strengthen your heart, you only need to make a few small changes to your habits or diet. You might not have considered these tips before, but something as simple as breathing deeply or drinking water instead of soda can greatly improve cardiovascular function.
Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, healthy living, and anything food-related. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and recipes.