Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been hyper aware of their health. Have the sniffles? A mild cough? These are all things the public pays far more attention to than they did pre-pandemic.
However, something that also needs to be kept in mind is the health of your heart. Without a heart, blood wouldn’t be pumped throughout the body. The blood wouldn’t provide the essential nutrients and oxygen needed to function. Waste would build up in our bodies. The state of our hearts is part of living a healthy life.
In honor of Heart Health Month, here are some tips to help you keep your most important muscle in top-tier shape.
One of the least expensive, most efficient ways to keep your heart happy is to do cardio. It doesn’t have to be a stereotypical, solo run either – make it your own! There are tons of DIY obstacle courses you can set up in your backyard or at a local park with your friends. Here’s one example we found on Health’s website. Whatever you do, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week.
Quit Smoking (Vaping Included!)
I have seen firsthand how difficult dropping a smoking habit can be. I grew up with parents both being cigarette smokers, which is not out of the ordinary, as people born during the Baby Boom are the leading generation of smokers according to a study published by Gallup in 2010. Despite Generation Z being the first generation to have smoking rates drop while growing up, they’re becoming the target audience for a new, electronic form of cigarettes: vapes.
Products like the Juul initially were sold to customers 18 years or older, but once it was found to be addicting, the state of Florida now requires you to be 21 to purchase a vape. However, the damage was already done. Vaping is not the harmless fad that we believed it was. The CDC continuously puts out studies regarding lung injuries and heart disease linked to the electronic cigarette industry; 68 deaths were confirmed to be linked to vaping as of February 2020. So put the cigarette, Juul, or anything in between down!
The foods that we eat directly affect our cardiovascular system, according to the University of California San Francisco Health. An improvement in diet can help manage high cholesterol and blood sugar, as well as preventing future health issues down the road. Eating leafy, green vegetables such as kale, spinach and collard greens are known for their abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Other foods you should incorporate into your diet, according to Healthline, are berries, avocados, whole grains, fatty fish (or fish oil vitamins), beans and more. Eating whole foods and exercising are a sure way of keeping the heart pumping.
There are times when stress is unavoidable: having a project due, the birth of a child, starting a new job, etc. However, stress should not be an everyday occurrence. Being able to manage your stressful times is an essential part of keeping your body healthy. Chronic stress, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), may lead to high blood pressure which can increase one’s risk of heart attack or stroke. The AHA recommends maintaining a positive attitude, getting enough sleep, exercise, finding a hobby, and spending time with friends and family to help manage your stress levels.
In conclusion, your heart is one of the most important muscles in the body – do your part in keeping it healthy.