Your heart works pretty hard for you. It beats roughly once a second for your entire life. That’s about 2.5 billion beats over the average lifespan. The blood that is circulated by the beating heart carries oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Your heart is important to say the least!

Cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States for many years. Fortunately, it is largely preventable with simple lifestyle changes.

Consider these activities to enhance your heart health and extend your lifespan:

  1. Exercise. Like all the other muscles in your body, your heart needs exercise to be at its most healthy. The current prescription from the medical community is 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, five times a week. Everyone should find a way to plan some exercise into their life. For example:

    1. Walk on a treadmill while watching TV.
    1. Exercise with a friend.
    1. Listen to a book on tape while you go for a run.
    1. Play a team sport.
    1. Hire a personal trainer.

  1. Reach and maintain a healthy weight. Your heart works much harder if you’re overweight. There’s only so much work it can do before it gives up. Find a healthy weight for your body and maintain it. Your heart will thank you.

  2. Avoid smoking. Smoking is dangerous, but you already knew that. Among other things, smoking damages your blood vessels and your blood cells. Smokers are at a much greater risk of suffering a heart attack.

  3. Manage stress. Stress kills. Though the mechanism isn’t understood, there is a strong correlation between stress and heart disease. If you feel stress on a regular basis, it’s important to find ways of dealing with that stress. Make a list of activities that relax you and start doing them.

  4. Get the proper amount of sleep. Multiple studies have shown that too much or too little sleep can increase the risk of developing heart disease. The proper amount of sleep appears to be between seven and nine hours for adults. More or less than this can impact your heart and overall health negatively.

  5. Maintain proper blood pressure. When your blood pressure is too high, the lining of your blood vessels can be damaged. This creates scar tissue and also attracts cholesterol and fat deposits. High blood pressure is dangerous but doesn’t feel uncomfortable. It really is the silent killer.

  6. Eat properly. A good diet can avoid many of the issues that lead to heart disease. Avoid saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt. Eat the things that you already know are good for you. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of the best heart-healthy foods include:

    1. Berries
    1. Whole grains
    1. Fish oil
    1. Nuts
    1. Beans
    1. Leafy greens
    1. Dark chocolate
    1. Fruits and vegetables
    1. Seeds

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 25% of the population ultimately succumbs to heart disease.

The rates are much lower in those countries with healthier eating and exercise habits. However, you don’t need to pack your bags and move to Japan to lower your risk of heart disease. You only need to adopt healthy behaviors and drop any behaviors that don’t help you to thrive.

A healthy diet, good sleep, and exercise can prevent a lot of negative health issues. These are the things you already know how to do. Start doing them religiously and strengthen your health. You’ll be glad you did!