A couple jogs together in a park.

Habits of the Heart

How we live, our decisions and habits, determine the longevity of our health. Certain lifestyle changes can make a noticeable difference, especially in the health of our heart. Since the heart is a vital piece of our life, it is important to prioritize taking great care of it. Bayhealth Family Medicine Physician Laurianne Haynes, MD, shares four lifestyle changes to have a strong, healthy heart:

  1. Move your body —Exercise is beneficial in many ways for the entire body, which means your heart greatly benefits from it. “Movement that increases your heart rate, at least 20 minutes a day, results in lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and helps to maintain a healthy weight,” shares Dr. Haynes. Our bodies were designed to experience resistance and build endurance. Research shows that those who are consistently moderately active through their lifetime will live longer.

  2. Eat intentionally — Eating whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals will aid in your overall health. Avoid processed foods and added sugar. This will also help you to avoid other diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Your heart grows stronger when it has the proper nutrition to fuel it. Limit alcohol consumption since it can inhibit the absorption of nutrients in the body. 

  3. Quit smoking — It’s going to be challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle while smoking. It increases your blood pressure and reduces the oxygen in your blood, among many other things. “Smoking can double your risk of heart attack, stroke or chronic heart disease,” says Dr. Haynes.

  4. Lessen stress — Studies show that stress has a correlation with heart-related illness. People might turn to smoking, overeating, or other negative habits while under excessive stress. “Risk of elevated blood pressure can be a result of stress,” shares Dr. Haynes. Focus on reducing stress in your life as best you can.

If you’re willing to make some changes, your heart will feel the benefits. If you ever have concerns, see your primary care physician and find out what’s going on without delay. Preventing a heart attack can begin today.

Visit Bayhealth.org/Find-A-Doc to find a doctor to meet your heart health needs.

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