You’ve heard all the things you’re supposed to start doing to help your heart: eat a healthier diet, stop smoking, get more exercise … but what about the things you’re already doing? Chances are you’re already off to a good start to keep your ticker working its best. Here are four things many people do all the time that may have surprising abilities to help protect your heart.
1. Watch comedies
… or do anything else that makes you laugh. Mayo Clinic says laughter can be a great stress reliever, which can soothe tension in your body and improve your mood. Stress is linked to heart disease. It can raise the levels of the hormone cortisol in the body to harmful levels, interfere with your sleep, and even make you crave unhealthy foods. So whether you love laughing at Phoebe's quirky humor on Friends or can't get enough of Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy, keep watching comedies.
2. Hang out with your pet
There's a reason that some colleges have puppies or kittens from the local animal shelter on campus during exam week. The time you already spend petting a furry friend could calm you down and reduce your blood pressure. If you've ever thought that a bad day was made better by having your pet curled up on your lap, you weren't imagining it. There’s research to back it up. If you live in an apartment that doesn't allow you to have pets, consider volunteering at a local shelter. Not only will you be able to spend time with all kinds of cute animals, but you'll also benefit the community.
3. Floss as much as you tell your dentist you do
Nobody enjoys flossing, but it's necessary to maintain both oral and cardiovascular health. How are they connected? According to Delta Dental, bacteria from your gums that cause gingivitis and periodontal disease can dislodge into the bloodstream and attach to blood vessels. This could cause clots, leading to deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke. The best way to help prevent this is to brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and regularly visit your dentist. Even if you have room for improvement, what you’re already doing probably has you well on your way.
4. Enjoy your 'splurges'
We all know the importance of eating right, but even in the healthiest diet, there's a little wiggle room for indulgences. If you like to unwind with a glass of wine after work or have some chocolate for dessert, you might be doing your heart a favor. Red wine, dark chocolate, and that perfectly brewed cup of coffee all contain substances called phenols that are powerful antioxidants. Just remember to enjoy them in moderation.
Red wine, dark chocolate, and coffee have a substance that may benefit your heart.
Doctors writing in the journal Circulation examined a number of studies and concluded that drinking a glass or two of wine three or four days a week may decrease heart attack risk by up to 32 percent. That’s no reason for a non-drinker to start drinking, because alcohol comes with well-known risks of its own. But if you already drink, go ahead and pour yourself that glass of wine.