(Family Features)–Your entire body, including your heart, brain and muscles, depends on healthy blood flow to help you feel and perform your best. Taking steps to promote healthy blood flow is particularly important as you age, and the arrival of spring and summer often provides the inspiration needed to pick up healthier habits. Focusing specifically on a healthy circulatory system for a healthier heart can be a smart initiative and a simple first step.
Dr. Lori Mosca, a leading authority on heart disease prevention, provides these tips for getting a jumpstart on maintaining a healthy heart.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting sufficient, quality sleep can help reduce stress, positively impact your metabolism and improve your body’s overall function, thereby reducing the demands on your heart. Most doctors recommend 6-8 hours each night for adults. To achieve the recommended amount of sleep, aim for a consistent bedtime each night. If necessary, create a routine that allows you to unwind, such as meditating or reading a book to clear your mind. Eliminate unnecessary light and noise, including leaving the TV or your cellphone on overnight. Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime. If your partner’s snoring keeps you awake, have him or her get checked for common breathing and sleep disorders.
Feeling more energetic and maintaining a healthy weight are important reasons to make exercising regularly one of your top priorities. Exercise not only helps burn pesky extra calories, it gives your circulatory system – including your heart – a workout and keeps muscles in good condition. Regular exercise also releases feel-good endorphins that help boost your mood and energy.
Dietary Patterns Matter
When taking aim at developing healthier habits, placing importance on the foods you use to fuel your body is key. Dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association recommend a healthy dietary pattern focused on nutrient-dense foods, such as a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts and skinless poultry and fish.
Out with Bad Habits
Some of the most important steps you can take toward healthier living are the habits you stop. For example, both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption increase the risk of multiple health conditions. An important part of your heart health is avoiding smoking altogether or to begin taking steps to quit; and while you don’t have to give up alcohol entirely, only consume it in moderation.
By committing to keeping a regular sleep schedule, regular exercise, a balanced diet and ditching bad habits, you can help support not only your heart, but overall health.