The heart muscle - how to keep it healthy
Oh, boy, buckle up because I'm about to take you on a wild ride of heart knowledge. And let me tell you, the heart is more than just a beating muscle in your chest, it's a powerhouse of awesomeness. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn some interesting facts about the heart, along with our top tips on keeping this vital organ functioning at its best.
10 Interesting facts about the heart
# 1 Your heart beats over 100,000 times per day
# 2 Your heart pumps about 5 - 7 litres of blood per minute. That’s over 7,500 litres per day (more than the capacity of an outdoor family spa).
# 3 There are approximately 100,000 kilometres of blood vessels in your body, which is enough to go around the world more than twice.
# 4 The average heart beat for a woman is about 8 beats faster than that of a man’s.
# 5 An adult heart is the size of two fists put together, whereas a child’s heart is the size of one adult fist.
# 6 Other than the cornea in the eye, every other cell in the human body gets blood pumped from the heart.
# 7 The right side of your heart pumps blood to your lungs. The left side of your heart pumps received blood from the lungs and pumps it throughout your whole body.
# 8 Christmas Day is the most common day for people to suffer from a heart attack, followed closely by Boxing Day and New Years Day.
# 9 More heart attacks happen on a Monday than any other day in the week.
# 10 Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and the world. This is why it is so important to be good to your heart by following a heart healing lifestyle
Top tips to keep your heart healthy:
Get regular exercise
Well, there’s no surprises here. I think most people know that exercise is so freakin' good for your heart. Here are just a few of the ways that regular exercise can help keep your heart pumping strong:
- Makes your heart muscle a total badass: Just like your biceps or your glutes, your heart can get stronger with exercise. Regular workouts help your heart become a lean, mean, blood-pumping machine that can handle anything life throws at it.
- Lowers your risk of heart disease: Nobody wants to deal with heart disease, am I right? Well, exercise can help reduce your risk by lowering your blood pressure, improving your cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation, and controlling your blood sugar. Boom.
- Boosts your circulation: When you exercise, your blood vessels grow wider, which means more blood can flow through them. That means your heart doesn't have to work as hard to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to keep going strong.
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight: Carrying around extra weight puts a ton of strain on your heart, but regular exercise can help you shed those pounds and keep them off. A healthier weight means a happier heart.
- Reduces stress: Let's face it, life can be pretty darn stressful. But exercise can help you chill the heck out by promoting relaxation and releasing those feel-good endorphins. Your heart will thank you for it.
- Gives you more energy: When you're feeling sluggish, it can be tough to get motivated to exercise. But trust me, once you get moving, you'll feel like a million bucks. Regular exercise can help boost your energy levels and reduce fatigue, making it easier to tackle your day-to-day tasks.
Eat a healthy diet
If you want to keep your heart healthy, you better start paying attention to what you're putting on your plate. That's right, diet plays a major role in the health of your heart. You can't just rely on exercise alone to keep your ticker in tip-top shape.
So, what should you be eating to keep your heart happy? Here are some tips:
- Get your fill of fruits and veggies: These bad boys are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre that can help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Plus, they're low in calories and high in flavour, so you really can't go wrong.
- Ditch the junk: Processed foods, sugary drinks, and foods high in saturated and trans fats are a big no-no when it comes to heart health. These foods can increase your risk of heart disease by raising your cholesterol levels and causing inflammation in the body. So, skip the drive-thru and opt for healthier options instead.
- Choose lean proteins: Foods like fish, chicken, and tofu are great sources of lean protein, which can help to keep your heart healthy. These foods are also lower in saturated fat than red meat, which can be harmful to your heart if consumed in excess.
- Don't forget about healthy fats: Healthy fats, like those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil, can actually be beneficial for your heart. These fats can help to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the body. Just be sure to consume them in moderation, as they are still high in calories.
- Limit your sodium intake: Too much salt in your diet can raise your blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. So, try to limit your intake of processed foods and opt for fresh, whole foods instead.
Alright, y'all, let’s talk about why reducing stress is crucial for keeping your heart healthy. I mean, let's be real, life can be a total dumpster fire sometimes, and stress is pretty much an inevitable part of the human experience. But here's the thing: chronic stress can wreak havoc on your heart, and ain't nobody got time for that. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should make it a priority to chill the heck out:
- Lowers your blood pressure: When you're stressed, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, which can cause your blood pressure to skyrocket. Over time, this can put a ton of strain on your heart and increase your risk of heart disease. But when you're able to chillax and let go of some of that stress, your blood pressure levels can return to a healthier range.
- Reduces inflammation: Stress triggers your body's inflammatory response, which can cause all kinds of issues if it's chronic. Inflammation is a major risk factor for heart disease, so if you want to keep your ticker in tip-top shape, you gotta find ways to keep your stress levels under control.
- Improves your cholesterol levels: Stress can mess with your body's cholesterol levels in all kinds of ways, which can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. But when you're feeling less stressed, your cholesterol levels tend to improve, which is good news for your heart.
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight: When you're stressed, you're more likely to reach for comfort foods (hello, pint of Ben & Jerry's) and skip your workouts. But over time, that can add up to some serious weight gain, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. By reducing your stress levels, you're more likely to make healthier choices and stay on track with your fitness goals.
- Promotes better sleep: Stress can seriously mess with your sleep, and we all know that a good night's rest is essential for heart health. By reducing your stress levels, you'll be more likely to catch those Zzz's and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Get plenty of sleep
Yes, that's right, getting a good night's rest is not only essential for feeling rested and refreshed, but it's also crucial for keeping your heart healthy. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should make sleep a priority:
- Lowers your blood pressure: When you're catching some Zzz's, your body is able to relax and your blood pressure naturally goes down. But when you're not getting enough sleep, your body is in a constant state of stress, which can lead to higher blood pressure levels over time. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, so getting enough sleep is super important for keeping your ticker in tip-top shape.
- Reduces inflammation: Chronic inflammation is a major risk factor for heart disease, and lack of sleep can actually cause your body to produce more inflammation. When you're getting enough rest, your body is able to naturally lower inflammation levels, which is great news for your heart.
- Improves your cholesterol levels: Sleep plays a crucial role in regulating your body's cholesterol levels. When you're not getting enough sleep, your cholesterol levels can actually increase, which can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. But when you're well-rested, your body is able to regulate cholesterol levels more effectively, which is essential for heart health.
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight: Lack of sleep can mess with your hormones in all kinds of ways, including making you feel more hungry and less satisfied after meals. Over time, this can lead to weight gain, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. But when you're getting enough sleep, your hormones are better regulated, which can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Promotes better heart function: When you're sleeping, your heart is able to take a break and recharge for the next day. But when you're not getting enough rest, your heart has to work harder to keep up with the demands of your body. This can put a lot of strain on your heart over time, which is obviously not a good thing.
What else can I do to help keep the blood pumping throughout my body?
Infrared sauna therapy has been suggested to have great potential benefits for heart health. Studies have shown that regular use of infrared saunas can help improve circulation, which can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Infrared saunas have also been found to improve endothelial function, which has the ability of blood vessels to relax and contract, and it can help to reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis (the blockages that can occur in arteries that contribute to heart attacks). Additionally, infrared saunas have been shown to decrease levels of inflammation in the body, which is a key contributor to heart disease. While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of infrared saunas for heart health, preliminary evidence suggests that regular use of these saunas may be a useful addition to a heart-healthy lifestyle.
How else can I help at home?
My best tip for helping the blood flow throughout the body at home is to lie on the acupressure mat and pillow. The very nature of being on those spikes massively increases the blood to flow to the areas that are on the mat. It’s like a gentle workout for the blood vessels to push the blood to these sites while you relax on the mat. I put my AirPods in and listen to the healing relaxation meditation at the same time. I love being able to multi-task. You can relax and reduce stress, while giving the circulatory system a workout all at once, and you may even fall asleep, I do!!! All of which is good for your heart health. You can even take the coconut inner out of your mat and wrap the spikes around your arm to stimulate the Chinese Medicine heart meridian on both sides. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy, this will increase the energy to the heart to improve heart health as well. So many options to give back to this amazing organ that keeps us alive.
So there you have it peeps, there are some common themes here. It’s quite easy to see how all of these factors interrelate with one another, like being stressed affecting your sleep, and eating poorly affecting your energy levels and therefore leading to no motivation to exercise. Balance is the key here. Eat well, keep your body moving, reduce stress and get plenty of sleep so that your heart doesn’t end up with any extra stresses. Give your heart the best chance to maintain healthy function, so that it can pump a further 100,000 times tomorrow and thereafter. Trust me without a healthy heart, we are destined for a world of trouble. Try incorporating a bit of exercises, some healthier food options, a decent sleep routine and a lay on your acupressure mat a couple of times per week to give back to your heart. A couple of infrared sauna sessions would also not go astray if heart health is your goal. In fact do these things and your whole body will thank you!