A healthy heart is important to maintain. It can help reduce blood pressure, boost your mood and prevent depression, as well as the risk of developing dementia.
If you can reduce the risks of developing life-threatening conditions such as these, you’ll enhance your overall heart health and well-being in the long term.
As its National Heart Month this (and every) February across the UK, we wanted to share the advice and knowledge we’ve learned about how to have and maintain a healthy heart.
We’ve included highlights from some of our healthy, wellness, and activities blogs, to inspire you to keep your heart strong and pumping this February and beyond.
Foods for a healthy heart
What should we eat for a strong heart?
In a previous blog, we uncovered the world’s healthiest diet, as well as a handful of others that can provide you with different health benefits for your heart.
Which diets will improve my heart’s health?
- Mediterranean diets can lower your risk of heart disease.
- A Japanese diet is high in omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Plus, a typical Japanese diet contains plant-based foods such as soy, which contains phytoestrogens that can also lower the risk of heart disease.
- The Nordic diet fosters weight loss which decreases the risk of heart attacks.
- Following the Paleo Diet leads to lower cholesterol, which is good news for those with heart disease as well as diabetes. The Paleo diet can also improve your heart health while assisting weight loss.
Overall, you can enhance your health and wellbeing by buying fresh local produce. To have this all prepared for you, go for a break at a healthy eating retreat…
Wellness Retreats for a healthy heart
There are many wellness retreats to choose from. Each has its own health benefits. However, to be on the road to a healthy heart, book into a health-conscious primal retreat. They aim to bring out our inner caveman (or women); by teaching us how to eat and move the way we were designed to, 1000’s years ago…
When you’re there, you’ll be fuelled with nutritious foods and take part in different exercises. It will give your fitness a boost and improve your relationship with food. You’ll also learn about the Paleo lifestyle (caveman diet), as mentioned previously. The lack of processed foods within the Paleo benefits you in the ways described above but you’ll also be left feeling full and satisfied too.
Foraging for foods from the forest and vegetarian meals are optional. However, yoga sessions and kickboxing workouts are encouraged in the forest. Workouts can include natural movements such as balancing, jumping, throwing, and lifting. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to reconnect with nature, while you learn how to move!
Moving more is a great way to have a healthy heart. It simply makes your heart stronger.
How do you make your heart stronger? Get it pumping!
Activities which are good for your heart
The health benefits of walking are free and easy. For instance, a brisk walk to the paper shop can help you build stamina and lose excess calories, from that biscuit you enjoyed earlier. If you’re not sure what a brisk walk is, aim for a pace that has you breathing a little more heavily, but not too much. If you walk briskly, for 150 minutes a week, you’ll be on the right track to reap all the benefits of walking. Some great tips for a rewarding walk: wear supportive shoes, take waterproofs and a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
- Kayaking and canoeing
Immerse yourself in the waters of a lake, river, or stream and reduce your stress levels. While you take in nature all around you, you’ll improve your heart health, thanks to the variety of movements your body is making. Kayaking and canoeing are low impact activities, meaning there is a reduced risk of wear and tear on your joints and muscles. However, they are great aerobic and cardiovascular activities, as you navigate across the water and strengthen your arms, back, and legs – all while enjoying a bit of peace and tranquillity.
Yoga might be known for improving your flexibility and balance. However, it’s also a way to strengthen your heart as you move through a variety of simple poses. You’ll increase circulation and blood flow to your heart by focusing upon different breathing exercises. You’ll calm your mind and let go of day-to-day stresses. In the long term, yoga can lower high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose levels, reducing the risks of hypertension, stroke, and heart disease.
For further wellness activities to enhance your heart health at home, read our blog entitled: maintaining positive health and wellbeing at home.
Which exercise is best for a healthy heart?
Different exercises have different benefits for your heart. To strengthen your heart, go for a brisk walk or swim.
To get your heart beating faster, do an aerobic exercise, or “cardio”. These types of exercises involve repetitive contractions of larger muscle groups, which get your heart pumping. To keep things interesting, do a varied amount of cardio over the week, some examples would be running, cycling, or playing a round of golf.
What should be noted, is that no one exercise or sport is best for a healthy heart. Just keep moving and/or exercise regularly Once you start and make it part of your lifestyle it will become second nature.
What should you prevent to ensure a healthy heart?
- Excessive drinking – consuming too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), heart failure and disease, stroke, or even cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart’s muscle.
- Smoking can not only damage your heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke on its own can cause multiple conditions that affect the heart (CVD), by changing your blood chemistry.
- Excessive eating can lead to excess weight gain, which can cause damage to your heart if you develop high blood pressure. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to a number of serious health and heart conditions such as heart failure.
- High cholesterol, is something that should be reduced or prevented, to decrease your risk of developing a heart or circulatory condition. It’s best to do what you can to avoid this fatty material (otherwise known as atheroma), from building within the arteries. Instead, reduce it to allow blood to flow easily and the heart to become stronger.
Travel insurance for heart conditions
If you live with high blood pressure or another heart-related condition, having Free Spirit travel insurance can cover you when you travel. This means you’ll receive any emergency care you require, without having to worry about the cost.
Free Spirit offers travel insurance for the following heart conditions:
- Heart attack/Myocardial Infarction
- Arrhythmia/Irregular Heartbeat
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Blocked or Narrowed Arteries
- Valve disease
- Aneurysm (aortic)
- Heart Failure
- Heart Disease
- Aortic Stenosis
- Vascular Disease
We have put together lots of top tips for travelling with heart conditions. Read our travel guide today.