How to Get Heart-Smart

The daily grind can leave your heart pumping hard. Work out a solid strategy to defeat potential heart attackers with these tips. 

From: <i>30 Minutes to a Healthy Heart</i>, Reader's Digest Canada

Start Small

Having a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard work. It’s as easy as doing a 5-minutes-a-day strength-training program while the coffee perks in the morning, or taking a 3-second meditative pause when the “you’ve got mail” alert sounds on your computer. Including these small steps into your routine one at a time will help you develop a healthier lifestyle without even realizing it.

Conquer Sitting Syndrome

We spend 22 hours a day sitting or lying down, yet our bodies are built for lots and lots of daily activity. Having a healthy heart means you need to fit movement back into your life, no matter how jam-packed your days are. Start by cutting down on convenient shortcuts. Vacuuming and dusting instead of hiring a cleaner, walking or biking to the corner store instead of taking your car, or shopping at stores instead of online are all easy ways to get moving.

Eat Fresh Foods

Fresh, whole foods don’t have to cost more or take more time to prepare than the packaged stuff. These wholesome, delicious edibles—fresh fruits and veggies, grains, fish, meats, dairy products, and even soy—not only taste good, they also protect your heart by slashing blood fats, driving down elevated blood sugar, cooling off inflammation, and fighting destructive free radicals.

Purge the Poisons

From tobacco to trans fats, sugar to environmental pollutants, the “toxins” we allow to enter our bodies seem to wreak havoc with our hearts first. Smoking hardens your arteries, making you 70 per cent more likely to die of heart disease than a non-smoker, so nixing the nicotine is essential. Infections like the flu cause inflammation, which puts pressure on the heart. Stop sickness by practicing good hygiene, and getting flu shots.

Find Joy

A growing stack of research links hostility, impatience, and holding grudges with poor heart health. In contrast, forgiveness, friends, and optimism are linked with healthier hearts. Hearts are healthiest and happiest when in the company of others, so spend an evening curled up on the sofa with your spouse instead of watching the 11 o’clock news. Also, try these stress-saving solutions: give your self a massage, burn incense, or light candles to defrag after a long day at work.

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