1. Well, don’t just sit there…
One of the most common activities that we engage in may be putting our hearts at risk for heart disease and stroke: sitting for prolonged periods of time in front of the computer or TV screen. Whether for work or play, our increasingly digital society has also led to a more sedentary society. So when it comes to what is increasingly being referred to as “Sitting Disease,” Dr. Michael Blaha of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, says “if you have a relatively sedentary job, you have to be creative.”
Tips: Work a walking session into your lunch breaks. Skip the coffee house for the courtyard, have meetings while walking around the office or outside. The idea is to keep moving throughout your day
2. Need to get something off your chest?
Research has shown that harboring anger may be bad for your heart. A study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital has shown that “people who have angry outbursts appear to be at increased risk of heart attack or stroke, especially within the first two hours of an outburst.” While it’s hard to sometimes “let it go” when it comes to stressful relationships or situations, the opportunity for a longer, healthier life may depend in part on a more optimistic outlook and effective stress management.
Tips: Sing your blues away. Listening to music you enjoy is an easy way to help brighten your mood. Allow yourself a short amount of time, maybe 15 minutes, to feel upset and then commit to changing your focus. Work it off. Exercise has been shown to be an excellent way of putting negative energy to good use.
3. What about your friends?
In the era of social networking websites, in many ways people are more connected now than ever. However, human-to-human interaction in many instances has declined. Research shows that spending meaningful time with family and friends is an important part of a robust and heart-healthy lifestyle!
Tips: Plan a healthy lunch date or fun activity with girlfriends. It will be time well-spent catching up AND getting fit!
4. Crossing your legs?
It may be more comfortable for you, but not for your heart. The National Institutes of Health reports that routinely “crossing your legs for long periods of time when sitting,” particularly above the knee, is associated with developing blood clots which are associated with heart attacks.
Tips: If getting out of the crossing habit is a challenge, do it for shorter periods of time. Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, Cardiologist and author of The Great Cholesterol Myth, suggests crossing no more than “10 to 15 minutes, and to get up and walk around every half hour or so.
5. Healthy mouth, healthy heart
While still not completely understood, research shows that a possible link exists between gum disease and heart disease. Studies have found that gum disease is an important risk factor for diseases such as stroke and heart disease.
Tips: To get to those gums, daily flossing is key. Your heart will thank you!
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Heart Health center for more articles and tips.