Habits and routines can help you progress forward or hold you back. How you begin your day is fundamental to your state of mind & heart.
What you do first thing in the morning can make or break your heart health. Here are some things to consider doing in the morning as part of your morning routine to stay in optimal shape:
GET OUT OF BED IMMEDIATELY
As soon as you wake up, get out of bed! Don't get caught up in anxious thoughts while lying in bed. Don’t think how bad things are or how tired you are. How you get out of bed sets up the rest of the day, so starting with healthy habits each morning will lead to beneficial outcomes.
DRINK A BIG GLASS OF WATER
Drink a full glass of water as soon as you wake up. This is critical for your health as you have just spent the last 7-10 hours with no food or drink. You are dehydrated, and your entire system desires water to arouse the joints & muscles and stimulate the activity of your organs (especially in the digestive tract & the heart)
Morning meditation sets the tone for your entire day. It will help you be more focused, content, and optimistic. It will calm you down so you can focus more on what is important and stay away from vices and distractions.
Studies also show that people who meditate daily have a lower risk of heart disease.
EAT 5 SERVINGS OF VEGETABLES
Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and tons of other beneficial compounds that help accompany a healthy lifestyle. Eating vegetables is an easy way to increase your fiber intake, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol buildup and the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Opt for eating a variety of veggies that are in season and local for the best nutrient content.
EAT LESS SUGAR
Diets that are high in sugar are pro-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation can lead to serious diseases and promote dangerous events, like a heart attack or stroke. High sugar intake also increases the chance of high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sugar intake to 25g for females and 36g for males.
Higher sugar intake is linked to higher triglycerides and blood cholesterol levels, with more bad cholesterol and less good cholesterol. Reducing sugar intake is one of the top dietary changes to make to improve your heart health.
LIMIT SATURATED FAT
Most of what you have heard about saturated fat being unhealthy is not true. It's not like trans fats that should be eliminated from the diet. It is vital for proper hormonal function in the body, and getting enough daily will actually improve your health. Red meat isn't as unhealthy as some people have led you to believe!
But, there is too much of a good thing! Limit your saturated fat intake to 33% of your total fat intake, with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats taking up a third themselves as well. This balance is ideal for getting all of the essential fatty acids in your diet, but don't stress if you can't hit your goal every single day.
EAT MORE FISH
Speaking of healthy essential fatty acids, increasing your fish intake to get more beneficial omega 3 fats is imperative to a healthy diet. These healthy fats reduce inflammation, improve healthy HDL cholesterol levels, reduce LDL high cholesterol levels, and keep your blood vessels healthy and plaque-free.
Keep in mind that mercury can become an issue if you don't make wise choices with your fish. Larger fish that live longer represent a higher risk of mercury accumulation. Stick to anchovies, sardines, herring, and chub mackerel (not king mackerel) for high doses of omega 3 fatty acids and low mercury exposure.
Smoking is dangerous for your overall health, which most people know ow by now. Even secondhand smoke is dangerous, meaning that ensuring the whole household stops smoking is the goal. Last but certainly not least, if you currently work in a smoking environment, like a casino, it may be time to consider a career change!
Stress levels may rise when you first attempt to stop smoking, but every cardiologist will tell you that it is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make with extreme health benefits. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) states that 500,000 people die, 16 million are plagued by smoking-related health issues, and $225,000,000,000 is spent each year treating smoking-related conditions!
Daily aerobic exercise is crucial to having a healthy heart, mind, and body.
Here’s a short but high intensity workout session to get your heart pumping
Warm-up for 3-4 minutes at a fast walk or light jog;
➤ Interval 1 - run at 12.0 km/hr for 1 minute;
➤ Interval 2 - walk at 6.0 km/hr for 1.5 minutes;
➤ Interval 3 - run at 16.0 km/hr for 1 minute;
➤ Interval 4 - walk at 6.0 km/hr for 1.5 minutes;
Repeat those 4 intervals 4 times for a very intense 20-minute workout.
Consider taking a cold shower. Studies show cold showers significantly increase blood flow.
They won’t only keep your heart healthy, but you’d also see your skin improving and being more alert during the day. Cold showers activate adiponectin, which works to lower blood sugar levels. It's a simple addition to your daily routine of heart-healthy habits that will improve your wellness.
SEE THE DENTIST
Gum disease is correlated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Whether this correlation equals causation is yet to be determined. However, with the link made in current research, it's an easy decision to take your dental hygiene seriously. See your dentist regularly, brush, floss, rinse and eat healthy foods to boost oral health.
GET MORE SLEEP
Most people in the modern world aren't getting enough sleep. It's not just about how many hours of sleep you get, either. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity. Many people make great choices for their heart health by eating whole grains, staying at a healthy weight and avoiding obesity, performing regular physical activity, etc., and top it off with too few hours of sleep in a bad sleeping environment. Bad sleep can counter almost all of the best benefits of a heart-healthy diet and exercise.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease. The connection between sleep quality and cardiology can't be ignored. Try these tips to improve your sleep:
- Go to sleep earlier and wake around sunrise.
- Stop exposure to blue light in the hours before bed and/or wear blue light blocking glasses.
- Sleep in a pitch-black room that is cool enough to require blankets.
- Get as much skin exposure to direct sunlight as soon as you wake.
- Eat a serving of protein and carbohydrates around 2 hours before bed as your last meal.
Implementing a healthy morning routine can take quite a long time. 26 to 66 days is the time it usually takes to form a habit.
It will be hard in the beginning, but consider all the benefits you’d be getting in the long run. Creating a more heart-healthy lifestyle is worth it, considering heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. 1 out of every 4 deaths is due to cardiovascular disease, so make sure to adopt these habits and keep your heart healthy!