5 Easy Ways to Stay Young at Heart

This National Heart Health Month, give your heart the TLC it deserves.

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Did you know that more than 2.4 million Canadians live with diagnosed heart disease? That’s a lot of people! But your daily choices—from what you eat to how you move and even how you think—can make a big difference in reducing your risk. Try one or more of these tips and keep your heart feeling as young as you do.

1. Take a deep breath (or several)

You probably deal with stress to some degree every single day, but managing the stressors in your life is an important part of taking care of your heart. Whenever you feel tension creep into your body (whether you’re stuck in a traffic snarl, the kids or grandkids are getting on your last nerve or you’re dealing with a difficult situation at work), try to take a three to five-minute break to breathe deeply. Slowly inhale through your nose and feel your belly expand, then slowly exhale. It will cause your body to relax and feel more tranquil.

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2. Eat more whole foods

A heart-healthy diet can have a wide range of benefits from improving cholesterol levels to reducing blood pressure. Canada’s food guide recommends filling your plate with whole foods like fruits and vegetables, protein sources (especially plant-based ones like legumes, nuts and seeds) and whole grain foods, which contain fibre, protein and B vitamins.

Whether you’re feeding yourself, your aging parents or picky kids, Cheerios are a quick and easy snack that you can eat on the go. The best part? They’re made with tasty whole grain oats that are packed with essential vitamins and minerals that can be part of a heart-healthy diet.

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3. Get those steps in each day

Movement is life and it’s key for a healthy heart. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity each week (and make sure each bout lasts at least 10 minutes). “Moderate intensity” means a brisk walk, biking, swimming or dancing, while “vigorous intensity” includes activities like jogging, hockey, basketball and aerobics. If you’re having trouble keeping track of the minutes or want to record your heart rate, step count, pace or other stats, consider wearing a fitness tracker to help you meet your movement goals.

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4. Power down devices at least 30 minutes before bed

Blue light–emitting devices like computers and smartphones can interfere with sleep because they prevent the body from producing melatonin— the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. But quality sleep is important for a healthy heart. To help you get the shut-eye you need, try to set a sleep schedule that involves shutting off screens at least 30 minutes before bed. If you can do an hour or more, that’s even better!

5. Find joy and gratitude in the little things

Feeling grateful may also mean you’ll experience a better mood, better sleep and less inflammation in the body—all aspects of a healthy life and, in turn, a healthy heart. To help in your search for gratitude, look for little ways to bring joy into your day—like a bowl of limited-edition Cheerios with happy heart bites instead of the traditional O shape. They’ll surprise and delight everyone in the household and they’re a healthy snack to boot.

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To help fuel a heart-healthy lifestyle, all boxes of Honey Nut, Multi Grain and Yellow-Box Cheerios purchased in February will include a chance to enter to win 1 of 5,000 Fitbit Inspire 2 Trackers, plus winners can enjoy a one-year trial subscription to Fitbit Premium ($129 retail value) 1. Entrants who do not win an Inspire 2 can receive a free 90-day trial subscription for Fitbit Premium. 2      

1 New Premium users only. Valid payment method required. Free trial must be activated within 60 days of device activation. Cancel before free trial ends to avoid subscription fees. See full terms & conditions here. Premium content and features subject to change.

2 New Premium users only. Valid payment method required. Cancel before free trial ends to avoid subscription fees. See full terms & conditions here. Premium content and features subject to change.

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada