We all know the heart is crucial to survival, but that doesn’t mean everyone is taking care of theirs. Part of the reason may be the desensitization to “hearts,” in that we view it as a symbolic thing as opposed to what it is: a muscle. How do you strengthen a muscle? You exercise it. That’s the purpose of cardio! It’s a workout for your heart since, unlike many of your other muscles, it’s an involuntary muscle. But while you don’t have control over the muscle, you can exercise it by working out and speeding your heart rate up!
Heart Disease Statistics
Just how important is it to keep your heart healthy? Consider the following statistics, provided by the Center for Disease Control (cdc.gov):
- In America alone, there are over 720,000 heart attacks.
- Of those, 515,000 are suffering a heart attack for the first time.
- There are 600,000 deaths a year from heart disease.
- It is theleading cause of death in men and women.
- Heart disease is more common than cancer.
- On average, 25% of all deaths in America are due to heart disease.
If you’re going to take care of yourself then the best way is to be informed about the risks so that you can take preventative measures.
5 Ways to Improve Your Heart
1. Take Your Medications
We’ve written extensively about the importance of this. It’s not simply that you need to take your prescribed medications, but you need to take the right medication at the right time. This is especially important for those with High Blood Pressure medication since they’ve changed the threshold for what age you should start taking medication otherwise it could increase your risk of suffering from a heart attack.
2. Know Your Risks & Lower Your Risks
When it comes to heart health, there are numerous factors that YOU CONTROL to lower your likelihood of suffering from this fatal disease. For example, if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes then you’re at an increased risk. However, taking medication at the proper time can lower that risk.
In addition, smoking and drinking contribute significantly. If you’re smoking, try cutting back, switching to patches, and/or (ideally) quitting. If you drink often, then cut back, but a glass of red wine has proven to help your heart, so watch your intake.
In general, visit and speak with your doctor frequently. Especially if you have any symptoms of a heart attack like chest pain or aches in your jaw, back and neck (if you’re a woman).
3. Diet & Exercise
Diet first, then exercise. Diet always comes first. You need to eat right before exercise. That will always be true. Once you’re eating healthy, then exercise. And by “exercise,” we don’t even mean going to the gym and working out for two hours. Do what you can manage. Studies have shown that 10 minutes of walking a day can vastly improve your heart health. Surely, you and everyone else in the world, can spare ten minutes.
4. Manage Stress
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated – and we mean in life, not just those that are at a heightened risk of heart disease. So, if there are things in your life that cause stress, figure out how to lessen them, change them, or avoid them altogether.
5. Creative Outlets
Any kind of social activity – especially those among your peers are great for you. We specify among your peers because you basically build a support group of people that are in the same boat. However, painting, singing, dancing… not just activities that provide cardio fitness, but any activity that lessens your stress and brings you peace of mind is helpful.