Managing Heart Health

In All, Eat Better, Move More by Cara Bailey

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Our heart is one of the most important organs in our body so it stands to reason that we take extra caution to treat it well.

Although love, fear, anger, heartbreak and other emotions don’t actually derive from the heart organ itself, it is safe to say that emotional stress can have a great impact on our heart health.

More research is needed on the direct effect of stress on heart disease but stress can cause behaviors and factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, over or under eating, and lack of exercise which do have a direct link to heart disease.


Cigarettes contain chemicals that damage blood cells and so many organs of the body including the heart. Smoking increases the risk for several heart related diseases such as atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and peripheral artery disease.

Obviously, if you don’t smoke, don’t start as nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. Smokers can and will only benefit from quitting but the choice is entirely up to you.

Drinking Alcohol

Drinking more than the recommended guidelines (more than 3 drinks/day or 7/week for women and more than 4 drinks/day or 14/week for men.) greatly increases your risk for heart disease.

Alcohol consumption can cause high blood pressure which increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. Drinking can also weaken the heart over time resulting in premature death or heart failure.

Offer yourself a more constructive method of stress reduction such as yoga, meditation, massage or quiet walks.

Over or Under eating

Stress can change a person’s normal eating habits causing the person to eat more or have trouble eating.

Under-eating can cause blood pressure to drop dangerously low and slow the pulse weakening the heart.

Over-eating causes your body to store extra fat and eventually leads to obesity which can also cause coronary heart disease.

Either dynamic can benefit from prepping your meals ahead of time.  Pick a day to put together healthy snacks and meals that can easily be packed and taken with you to work or school. This is a great way to deal with portion control for over eaters, or providing easily digestible meals for under-eaters.

If the situation worsens and noticeable weight gain or loss occurs, visit your doctor for further help.

Lack of Exercise

Without regular exercise we put ourselves at risk for high blood pressure.

Exercise does not have to be an unattainable chore. Start off with just 10 minutes a day and work your way up to 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activities such as walking, jogging, yoga or swimming.

Benefits of exercise in relation to the heart include lower cholesterol levels and possible increase in blood vessels that connect to the coronary arteries.

You may have heard in a yoga class before to “open your heart.” Some yoga poses aimed at the heart cavity are cobra pose, wheel pose, bow pose and camel pose. Cardio activity is a major type of exercise aimed at healthy hearts. Running, tabata, kickboxing and zumba are examples of cardio related exercises or group activities.

Find your way to keep your heart happy.