How Can I Tell If My Heart Is Healthy?

Your heart health can be measured by any of several methods, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood glucose (sugar) levels
  • Cholesterol values
  • C-reactive proteins, and
  • Homocysteine levels

You can find more about heart-health benchmarks by visiting the American Heart Association at this link: www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200002

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Get Moving!

Regular aerobic exercise is a major factor in your cardiovascular health, so find a form of exercise that gets your heart pumping and do it regularly. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to start exercising — and stick with it — if you find a FUN activity that you enjoy, like tennis, biking, walking vigorously, jogging, or aerobic dancing. Or mix it up, and try something different each day of the week.

Your mind, body, and spirit can all benefit from engaging in regular physical activity. For your body, exercise helps to protect against the development of chronic diseases, supports healthy bone density, supports healthy weight management, increases heart and lung function, and has a positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure. And for your mind and spirit, exercise decreases muscle tension, can enhance feelings of wellbeing, improves your ability to handle stress, and often improves self-esteem and elevates mood.

5 Quick Exercise Tips

  1. Pick activities that you really enjoy. Think FUN rather than exercise.
  2. Increase your success rate by exercising with a friend or fitness coach.
  3. Stay motivated by keeping an exercise journal that outlines your accomplishments.
  4. Evaluate your progress bi-weekly, not every day.
  5. Reward yourself by doing something fun that supports your healthy efforts.

For more information about exercise recommendations, please visit this American Heart Association link: www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200013.


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Foods That Support Heart Health

Your diet can play a huge role in maintaining cardiovascular health. A diet rich in antioxidants, beneficial fats, and fiber, can pay off in the long run. Specific nutritional supplements may also support heart health, help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood lipid levels, and help keep vessels and arteries clean.

Chronic inflammation is believed to be the culprit behind many degenerative diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer. Increase your servings of anti-inflammatory foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, spices, and dark chocolate, which all contain powerful flavonoids that have antioxidant properties.

For more advice about a heart-healthy diet, please visit the American Heart Association at this link: www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200010 .


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5 Anti-Inflammatory Superfoods and Spices

Blueberry: Supports eye health, brain health, and vascular health. Research shows that this may be one of the best in terms of antioxidant activity.

Turmeric: Contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant that has potent anti-inflammatory & detoxification capabilities.

Ginger: Contains anti-inflammatory chemicals (gingerols), which fight free radicals & pro-inflammatory chemicals.

Cold water fish: Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA/DHA) have strong anti-inflammatory & heart-protective activity.

Dark chocolate: Contains a high level of flavonoids, responsible for relaxing blood vessels & balancing inflammatory chemicals.

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Cool It! (Stress Reduction for Heart Health)

Stress can disturb the body’s ability to absorb and store important nutrients, resulting in nutritional deficiencies. For example, B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, Vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium levels can become depleted. Stress can also promote the formation of free radicals in the body, weaken the immune system, increase blood pressure, disrupt sleep, impair attention and memory, and cause weight gain.

7-Minute Relaxation Exercise

  1. Find a comfortable location and lay down on your back. Begin by taking 5 slow, deep breaths.
  2. Focus your attention on your feet. As you inhale, gently tighten the muscles in your feet and hold for 8 seconds. (Don’t hold your breath.) With a long breath out, slowly relax these muscles for about 20 seconds. Before moving on to the next set of muscles, breathe deeply again.
  3. Next, focus your attention on the muscles in your legs. Tighten for 8 seconds, relax for 20 seconds, and take another deep breath. Continue the same process as you work your way up your body to your thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, hands, shoulders, arms, neck, and face.
  4. End with 5 slow, deep breaths.

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