5 Simple Steps for a healthier heart:
People often associate the month of February with friendship and love. It’s fitting that February is heart health month. This month take the opportunity to focus on one of the most important organ systems: the cardiovascular system.
The cardiovascular system pumps blood throughout the body to supply our tissues with oxygen. It is the central hub that allows all our other organ systems to exist. It is only fitting to give the heart the spotlight this month with 5 simple steps to support a healthy heart.
Step one: Manage Stress
This can be a hard one but being able to understand the things that cause stress in our lives is a good first step. Using activities you enjoy to help cope with the stress can be beneficial toward managing a stressful day. Set a goal to identify the stressors in your life. List activities that bring you joy. It is always good to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider for additional resources.
Step two: Nourish the body.
Eating a Mediterranean diet has been associated with a healthy cardiovascular system. This is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Lowering sodium intake and added salt is associated with lower blood pressure. Set a goal of lowering sodium intake from processed foods. This can be done by choosing to cook one more meal each day rather than choosing to eat out at restaurants. Rinse canned items before cooking them or choose no salt added canned items to reduce the sodium content. Using lemon and lime juice as well as spices can add flavor to food without adding a lot of salt.
Step three: Healthy Exercise
Healthy exercise supports a healthy cardiovascular system. Set a goal to build up to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Start by walking daily for 20-25 minutes before or after work and gradually increase the intensity. Give yourself bonus points for finding additional activities to share with friends and family. Keep a journal or record where you can see it each day.
Step four: Healthy Sleep
Healthy sleep is correlated with lower blood pressure. Set a goal to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Create a bedtime routine and set a time to go to bed each night. Keep technology out of the bedroom and turn off all screens before bed.
Step five: Follow up with your healthcare provider.
Following up with your healthcare provider allows them to monitor your heart health through labs and anthropometric measurements.
Doing these 5 things well and you may see improvements beyond a healthy heart. The right movement and nourishment for your body can result in increased energy levels, better sleep, and an overall reduction in stress.
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