In Canada, the month of February is focused on heart health. When it comes to heart health, what you do physically and emotionally matters! Let’s get statistical for a sec.
- Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada.
- In Canada, every 5 minutes someone dies from a heart condition.
- 9/10 Canadians have at least 1 heart condition risk factor.
- Men are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack than women.
It’s a harsh and scary reality, but without knowing these statistics, you may not be as inclined to take preventative measures. As much as 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through healthy behaviors. YOU have the power to reduce your risk of heart disease.
HERE ARE 5 SIMPLE THINGS TO IMPROVE YOUR HEART HEALTH:
NO. 1 Sleep more
Your sleep patterns are connected to your blood pressure: a key indicator of your heart health. When you’re experiencing either poor quality sleep or lack of sleep altogether, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol to stay alert. Managing your stress level is critical to managing your blood pressure. Consistently high blood pressure is the result of more blood pumping to the heart, which means it’s working harder day after day. Your blood pressure decreases by 10-20% while you sleep, which allows the body to calm down, rest, and recover (Suni, 2022). Getting 7 or more hours of sleep every night can improve your blood pressure and give your heart the rest it needs.
NO. 2 Eat breakfast
Your nutrition patterns are connected to your blood glucose levels: another key indicator of your heart health. If you want to set your day up for success, it starts with breakfast. Starting the day with caffeine, skipping breakfast, or eating something sugary first thing in the morning can spike blood glucose level for the rest of the day. Excess glucose can damage blood vessels and nerves connected to your heart, which can impact its ability to pump blood to your body (CDC, 2022). You want to manage this by starting your day with a balanced meal full of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Check out our Nutrition section of the ADF Blog for some nutrient-dense and equally delicious breakfast recipes.
NO. 3 Spend time with loved ones
Psychological well-being is key to reducing stress, which can reduce blood pressure, and therefore reduce your risk of heart disease. A support system of friends and/or family can help you talk through problems, distract you from stressful situations, or replace negative emotions and memories with positive and happy ones. Playing games, going for a walk, watching a movie together, or working out together are great ways to interact with loved ones.
NO. 4 Strength train
Multiple studies have shown that strength training even just one time a week can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by as much as 70% (Moore, 2020). The heart is a muscle, and just like strength training can increase your bicep muscle mass, it can increase your heart muscle mass as well! This is essential for better blood flow to the heart, and ultimately, improved heart health. Muscles contract to help veins and arteries carry blood to and from the heart. When you have more muscles, blood is pumped more efficiently and therefore helps reduce blood pressure and better regulate blood sugar levels. Check out which All Day Fit strength training program is right for you!
NO. 5 Drink more water
As mentioned, the heart is a muscle. There is a connection between dehydration and cardiac fibrosis, hardening of the heart muscles (NIH, 2022). Water lubricates the muscles and flushes toxins from the body. When muscles don’t get enough fluid, they can spasm or contract involuntarily. A buildup of toxins in the muscles can also cause inflammation, which reduces blood flow, or causes pain and soreness in the muscles. Drinking 2-3L of water every day (no this doesn’t include coffee) can help keep the blood flowing and muscles working efficiently.
Understanding all facets of your health is well… a lot! These simple 5 things allow you to incorporate them into your life regularly to take the next step in your heart health. Your best bet is to reach out to your health professional, understand your family history, and be cognizant of how you treat your body. Check out Heart and Stroke Canada for more information, donation resources, and much more.
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