Blog/Building Heart-Healthy Habits: Diet, Exercise and More
8/28/2023 | 4 min read

Building Heart-Healthy Habits: Diet, Exercise and More

8 ways you can prevent cardiovascular disease

Two adults and their child are making food with healthy ingredients. There are plenty of healthy and whole ingredients on the table and the family is hugging together.

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide. In today’s fast-paced world, where stress and sedentary lifestyles have become the norm, maintaining a healthy heart has never been more crucial. Your heart, the powerhouse of your body, requires diligent care to function optimally and prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases. 80% of cardiovascular disease is preventable, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

And that’s the good news! It means you have the power to influence your heart health positively through a combination of mindful dietary choices, regular exercise and leveraging the convenience of health services. 

Understanding the importance of heart health

Your heart is the muscle at the center of your circulation system that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. This process ensures all tissues receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly. 

It serves as the central component of the circulatory system, which is a complex network of blood vessels that transport blood, oxygen, nutrients, hormones and waste products to and from various parts of the body. In a nutshell, the heart is a pretty important organ to keep in tip top shape.

Cardiovascular diseases and heart conditions like heart attacks, strokes and hypertension, can stem from factors like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a sedentary lifestyle. However, by being proactive and building better habits, you can significantly reduce your risk. Lifestyle changes, particularly related to diet and exercise, are the key to a strong heart. 

8 ways to build heart-healthy habits

1. Eat a heart-healthy diet: View your heart as a vessel that deserves the best nourishment. What you put into your body is what you’ll get out. Find a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats to significantly diminish the risk of your heart disease.

Salmon, avocados, nuts and olive oil are particularly great additions to your daily bites. Steer clear of processed foods, sugary snacks and excessive salt intake, as they can exacerbate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Remember that everything is okay in moderation. Allow yourself the room to treat yourself while still maintaining a healthy foundational diet.

2. Tame your sodium intake: To reduce your salt intake, you can use herbs and spices as flavor enhancers and prevent excessive sodium consumption. The overindulgence of salt can potentially lead to elevated blood pressure and fluid retention, putting strain on your heart.

There are a lot of delicious seasonings that can be used as an alternative to excess sodium usage. Rosemary, thyme, cumin and turmeric are options that both amplify flavors and reduce inflammation. 

3. Be mindful of your portions: Portion control is pivotal. A study by the National American Institute for Cancer Research found that 52% of Americans realize their portion sizes have increased at home and just 37% say they have cut back on portions while eating.

By having portion sizes, a balanced weight is sustained, relieving the heart of undue stress. By preventing the accumulation of excess weight, which places undue strain on the heart, this prudent approach effectively mitigates the escalation of cardiovascular ricks. Find tips to measure and control portion sizes here.

4. Increase exercise: Our bodies are designed for movement and our hearts love it. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts each week.

Moving your body doesn’t have to be a chore. Find what form of exercise works for you, whether it be brisk walks, dancing, cycling, swimming or even pickleball. Simple adjustments, such as choosing stairs over the elevator or parking in the furthest spot is a step (see what we did there) in the right direction.

5. Get plenty of sleep: I think most of us would agree we don’t get enough sleep yet it is vital for your heart health. When you sleep, it gives the heart time to repair and rejuvenate itself. Ideally, aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Finding a bedtime routine you like is a great way to tell your brain it’s time for bed.

6. Nurture your body with healthy fats: Not all fats are bad! In fact, there are many kinds of fats that nurture your heart. Opt for unsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and fatty fish. These fats lower bad cholesterol (HDL) levels and promote greater heart health.

7. Balance your stress levels: Chronic stress adversely affects your heart. Embrace relaxation techniques, including meditation, deep breathing and yoga to alleviate stress’s toll. Engaging in hobbies, spending time with family and friends and allowing leisure into your life are amazing stress relievers. Remember, everything is connected, so when you nurture your mind, you nurture your body too!

8. Bid adieu to smoking and cut back on alcohol: If you’re a smoker, you’re 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease. Smoking also significantly increases your risk of heart disease by impairing blood vessels, diminishing oxygen supply and elevating the risk of blood clots. If you’re looking to quit, seeking support from friends, family and healthcare professionals can be a great place to start

Cutting back on how many happy hours you hit up in a week can also decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Drinking too much alcohol can elevate blood pressure and create an abnormal heartbeat or cardiac arrhythmia. This can lead to hypertension, high blood pressure and a greater risk of stroke. 

Let Agile help you navigate your health challenges.

Like anything else, the pursuit of a healthy heart demands commitment and effort. However, it’s worth acknowledging that health challenges might arise along the way. Whether it is managing allergies, heartburn, migraine or any other concern, Agile’s array of services are thoughtfully crafted to offer the care and guidance you require. 

At Agile, we believe everyone should have access to excellent healthcare, regardless of where you are or when you need it. We offer convenient virtual care across the U.S. for your most common, day-to-day medical conditions. 

Our providers will focus on your unique concerns to deliver effective, personalized and discrete treatment in a timely manner. We’re here to get you back to your best as fast as possible.

Explore our complete list of rapid, cost-effective treatments now.