5 Small Changes You Can Make Today To Improve Your Heart Health0 Comments
When facing major lifestyle changes like improving your heart health, it can feel intimidating to get started.
Some people manage to rebuild a lifetime of habits with ease. For many, it’s quite the opposite—we start making changes before falling back into old routines.
The good news is you don’t necessarily have to undergo a complete lifestyle makeover. You can start to improve your heart health with only a few minor habit tweaks.
You can make significant changes by starting small.
If you’re looking for attainable ways to improve your heart health, keep reading. We’ll share five reasonable changes that you can make today to start seeing results.
Looking for specific advice? Use the links below to browse this article.
- Why You Should Start Small
- Prioritize Movement
- Eat Healthily
- Manage Stress
- Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
- Build A Support System
1. Why You Should Start Small
Even if you’re up against a transformation that feels massive, you should still start small.
The smaller, the better.
Telling yourself that you’ll commit to an hour-long workout every day is hard. Telling yourself that you’re going to change your entire diet overnight is hard.
When you set your mind to making a change, it’s easy to start big. Motivation or enthusiasm takes over, and we take on too much too soon.
Instead of going all-in at the outset, try practicing the Two-Minute Rule.
You know that you want to exercise more.
You know you want to improve your diet.
You know want to manage stress better.
All of these things require habit formation. Make a new habit as easy as possible. It shouldn’t take more than two minutes to do it. The idea is to simplify as much as possible.
You can scale anything you want to accomplish down to a two-minute version.
Jumping rope, for example, turns out to be laying down your jump rope mat.
Going for a walk turns into putting on your shoes.
Eating more vegetables throughout the day is simply lifting them out of the fridge.
Taking on a 60-minute jump rope workout is challenging. Putting a mat on the floor is simple. Chances are, you’re going to do far more than just get your mat out.
The truth is you become more motivated after taking action.
Something is always better than nothing.
Over time, you’ll get used to the ritual of getting out the mat. And just like brushing your teeth before bed, if you do it enough, it will start to feel weird when you don’t.
It seems weird to feel accomplished by putting on your shoes. But the point is not to do one thing. The point is to master the habit of showing up.
5 Small Changes To Improve Your Heart Health
1. Prioritize Movement
Being physically active is a great first step towards better heart health.
However, different types of exercise contribute to overall fitness. Aerobic exercise and resistance training are the most important for heart health.
Here’s how both types of exercise benefit your heart health.
- Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Aerobic exercise also reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Overall, aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and keeps your arteries clear. A stronger heart also pumps blood more efficiently, which improves blood flow to all parts of your body.
Aerobic exercise includes jumping rope, brisk walking, running, swimming, and cycling.
Jumping rope is phenomenal for heart health. The exercise can:
- Lower your resting heart rate
- Decrease blood pressure
- Reduce stress
- Reverse bad cholesterol
- Lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases
These examples are just a few jump rope benefits linked to heart health.
If you’re looking for a powerful cardio tool, a jump rope should be in your line-up.
Seeing heart health benefits from physical activity start with roughly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. With that said, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers jumping rope to be a vigorous-intensity activity and is about the same as two minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
On that note, you can improve your cardiovascular health with only 15 minutes of jump rope a day, five times a week.
You can read more about the benefits of jumping rope in this post.
- Resistance Training
Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition.
People carrying a lot of body fat (including belly fat, a risk factor for heart disease) can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.
Resistance training includes working out with free weights (such as kettlebells, dumbbells, or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands, or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and chin-ups.
You can also use a jump rope for resistance training. With weighted jump ropes, you engage more muscle groups with every swing. Here’s the difference between light ropes and weighted ropes:
2. Eat Healthily
You can make several minor adjustments to your diet to improve heart health.
- Eat one extra fruit or vegetable a day. Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive, taste good, and are good for literally every part of your body, including your heart.
- Stop drinking your calories. Cutting out just one sugar-sweetened soda or calorie-laden latte can easily save you 100 or more calories a day. Over a year, that can translate into a 10-pound weight loss and a healthier heart.
- Reduce your salt intake. Even if you don’t add salt to your food every day, chances are you’re still eating far too much of it. The World Health Organization advises adults to consume less than 2g sodium (approx. 5g of salt) per day for a healthy heart. Reducing salt in your diet can lower your blood pressure naturally.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. To maximize your heart health, try eating foods like leafy green vegetables, whole grains, berries, avocados, fatty fish, nuts, beans, dark chocolate, garlic, olive oil, and green tea.
3. Manage Your Stress
Stress. We all experience it, and everyone can benefit from reducing it. Stress can wreak havoc on your health - including your heart health. And reducing stress can go a long way to helping you prevent and maybe even reverse conditions that can lead to heart disease.
Aside from exercise and eating well, here are a few ways to manage your stress.
- Laugh. Go watch some stand-up comedy.
- Meditate. There are a ton of great apps for meditation and mindfulness (Core, Headspace, and Calm). There’s also a lot of great free resources on YouTube for guided meditations.
- Listen to upbeat music. Check out some of these playlists.
- Get social. Spending time with friends and family can improve your mental and physical health. One study showed that spending time with friends and children helps release the natural stress-relieving chemical oxytocin.
- Keep a journal. Journaling is a great way to discover your thoughts, express your emotions, and look at the positive aspects of your life. If you’re trying to manage stress, keeping a journal is a great self-care idea to check in with yourself daily.
4. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Getting good sleep isn’t just important for your energy levels—it’s critical for your heart health, too.
Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night are more likely to say they have had health problems. Some of these health problems raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
A sleep schedule is particularly important. Sleep is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking, and breathing. If you’re serious about taking care of your heart health, you should consider starting and maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule.
5. Build a Support System
Don’t feel like you need to take on any big lifestyle changes on your own.
If you’re struggling to stay consistent with your new habits, ask a close friend or family member to help keep you on track.
Or you can join our Facebook Community. We’ve got 97K wonderful and supportive people looking out and helping one another reach their goals.
Over To You
There you have it—making a step to improve your heart health doesn’t need to be overwhelming if you break it up into small, manageable changes.
We hope these tips will help you in your fitness journey. Have other suggestions? Drop them in the comments below.