3 minute read

Do Your Heart Good

Tips For a Healthy Heart

Words by Rossie Ballard

The heart is the most important part of the body, and works around the clock to keep us alive. Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in every 3 deaths each year. Fortunately, lifestyle changes can be made that increase the chances of living a healthy life and reduce the risk for heart disease. Here are some tips:


Exercise is preventive medicine and can help lower blood pressure, improve your mood, and make you feel amazing! When you're stressed or anxious, it can cause high blood pressure by affecting the nervous system, which controls heart rate. But exercise (30 minutes three times a week) can help calm your mind and body through releasing feel-good chemicals (endorphins) into your brain.

Exercise ideas:


A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing blood clots. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, while high cholesterol and diabetes are major risk factors for developing heart disease. Foods to include in a healthy diet include:

• Vegetables including spinach and leafy greens;

• Fruits including apples or grapefruits;

• Whole grains including brown rice or whole-wheat bread; and

• Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or tuna.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

If you are overweight, losing weight (even just 10 pounds) can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It may also reduce stress on the heart and help prevent diabetes.

Below are some tips for losing weight:

• Set goals and new habits and find an accountability partner

• Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats

• Plan/prep meals in advance

• Limit your fatty food intake (margarine, fried foods, candy, baked goods, ice cream)

• Downsize your serving portions

• Exercise regularly

• Drink plenty of water

• Track your progress

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy body. The CDC recommends adults get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

The CDC advises people to:

• Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake-up time;

• Sleep in a dark, quiet place set at a comfortable temperature;

• Digital detox 2 hours before bedtime;

• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bed; and

• Exercise. Physical activity during the day makes it easier to fall asleep. If you are still having trouble sleeping, try taking a warm bath, drinking chamomile tea, meditating (try Calm, Abide, or Headspace apps), or the 20/20 rule: If you’re awake in bed for over 20 minutes, go do something else for 20 minutes and try again.

Other Contributing Factors

Smoking: This is a hard habit to break but there are many nicotine replacement therapies (patches or gum) that can reduce cravings and dependency.

Stress: Chronic stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can increase risk for heart attack and stroke. Manage stress by practicing self care through exercise, nature walks, meditation, and regularly doing things that bring you joy.