Everywhere you look, hearts abound as Valentine’s Day draws near. Not to mention, February is also American Heart Month in the United States.
Given the convergence of all things heart this month, Marcea Wiggins, ND, and our team here at Santé Aesthetics and Wellness want to focus on this important subject in this month’s blog post. Outside of encouraging those preventative, regular health screenings to ensure your heart health is in tip top shape, here, we explore five incredibly simple steps you can take to boost your cardiovascular health.
GET YOUR ZZZ’s
One in three American adults gets less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night, which can affect your heart health. When you sleep, your heart rate lowers and your muscles relax, giving your body (and your cardiovascular system) a much-needed break from the daily grind.
Looking at this from another angle, when you don’t get enough restorative sleep, you’re at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, among other problematic medical conditions.
To promote better heart and overall health, go to bed a little bit earlier so you get at least seven hours of good, uninterrupted sleep each night.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
If you’re constantly anxious, worried, stressed, or angry, you’re not doing your heart any favors, because you’re at risk for raising your blood pressure, which can lead to serious problems like heart attack or stroke.
Instead of resting in negativity, find three things that you’re grateful for each day — from good friends to a new toothbrush. When you train yourself to focus on the positive, you become more positive and your heart can relax.
Piggybacking on the tip above, we suggest you work on your gratitude list each night before you go to sleep, which allows you to drift off with a positive mindset.
SUBSTITUTE A SNACK
Eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to boost your cardiovascular health. While overhauling your diet takes commitment and work, you can start out small by substituting a sugary or fat-laden snack with a piece of fruit or a vegetable.
For example, instead of grabbing a cookie, try an apple, which is sweet and takes more time to eat. If you love crunchy chips, try nuts, small carrots, or celery instead.
Over time, you’ll come to truly enjoy these fruits, nuts, and vegetables and add more to your diet.
FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO EXERCISE
Exercise is one of the best ways to promote a healthy heart, but many people don’t have the time to devote to a proper exercise regimen. If this sounds familiar, you can find many ways to get plenty of exercise throughout the day by:
- Parking a little farther from the entrance of the store
- Taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
- Doing arm lifts when you take your garbage out
- Executing a few squats as you wait for your coffee
These are just a few ideas, and we’re sure that you can come up with some creative ways to elevate your heart rate and build muscle without skipping a beat in your busy day.
There’s no shortage of things that can stress you out these days, so find ways to relax. When your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode, your muscles are tense and your heart rate elevates.
To offset stress, try these tips:
- Take a few minutes each day to breathe deeply — four seconds, four seconds out
- Create screen-free time for yourself
- Be in the moment without worrying about the future or the past
- Try yoga
- Go for a walk
- Immerse yourself in a game with your family
Another way to relax is to routinely pamper yourself with a massage. We offer a full slate of relaxing massages that can do wonders for lowering your heart rate. You can also try one of our relaxing facials. They give you an opportunity to slow down and leave looking refreshed and revitalized.
For more information on these services and others we offer, please contact our practice in Portland, Oregon.