Valentine’s Day, the day many people dread every year. Instead of worrying about your Valentine’s Day plans, or lack of, why not concentrate on making small changes to your lifestyle and concentrate on your own heart health this year. Here’s some tips for a healthy, happy heart.
First up the obvious one – diet
Eating healthily can benefit your body in many ways. It can also contribute to a healthy heart. Include lots of water, fresh fruit and veg, whole grains, oily fish, nuts, seeds, foods high in fiber and foods low in fat in your diet. Eating healthy food is one of the best defences against developing heart disease later in life.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can also reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Aim for 30 to 40 minutes a day, over 4/5 days a week, of exercise. Think outside the box and join a dance class, kickboxing class or yoga class and switch it up every few weeks so you don’t get bored. Exercise with friends to motivate each other. Exercise can improve your mood and decrease stress coming up to exam season.
Your heart will benefit from having a stress free semester. Signs of stress can include getting frustrated, being anxious, a lack of interest in day to day activities and an overall feeling of being overwhelmed with your to-do list. Aside from regular exercise, make time to spend with friends and family to unwind after a long week in college. Speak to a friend, family member or counselor if you are concerned about your stress level.
Smoking and Alcohol
Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you could do for your heart health. Avoiding heavy drinking can also have a huge positive impact. By taking it easy on a night out you also avoid the headache the next day.
Salt and High Blood Pressure
Avoid too much salt in your diet because too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure. Look out for salt in pre-made meals and sauces. Aim to get friends together at least once a week to make fresh home-made meals. Just imagine taking part in Come Dine With Me and de-stress at the same time. Win win. Doctors and many pharmacies provide blood pressure testing if you are concerned.
Take time out every week to do something you enjoy. Did you know a good hard laugh can circulate 20% more blood from the heart through your whole body and relax blood vessels? Well, now you do. Next time someone cries with laughter think of how their body loves them for it.