It’s never too late to incorporate healthy heart habits into your daily routine. However, it’s not always easy to break bad habits, especially if you’re unaware they’re bad habits in the first place. Read on to find out the eight worst habits for your heart and how you can break them for improved heart health.
1.) Prolonged Periods of Standing or Sitting
Originally, researchers were focused on the effects of prolonged periods of sitting on the heart. According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, “People who sat for prolonged periods of time had a higher risk of dying from all causes — even those who exercised regularly.”
However, more research has shown that prolonged periods of standing may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to The Conversation, “[it’s] because standing too long can result in blood pooling in the legs, increased pressure in the veins, and increased oxidative stress, all of which can contribute to an increased risk.”
Break the Habit: Only sit or stand for 30 – 60 mins at a time. In between intervals, get up and get moving!
2.) Excessive Drinking
Besides the extra calories, excessive drinking is also linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart failure.
Break the Habit: Depending on your age and gender, stick to 1-2 drinks per day or less.
Snoring is more than an annoying habit; it’s also a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. This can decrease oxygen levels, increase blood pressure levels, and lead to heart disease.
Break the Habit: Talk to your doctor about your snoring. There are plenty of remedies that can help you combat the problem.
4.) Forgetting to Floss
According to researchers, gum disease has strong links to heart disease. The bacteria responsible for gum disease may increase inflammation in the body, which is a trigger for heart disease.
Break the Habit: Place a sticky note on your mirror to remind yourself to floss in the morning and before bed.
5.) Overeating Salt
If you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys and brain. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.
Break the Habit: Besides avoiding the salt shaker, read food labels to ensure the salt content is not excessive.
6.) Depression or Stress
Whether you’re depressed or stressed, internalizing your symptoms may increase your risk of heart disease. The reason for this is that people tend to make poor lifestyle choices – such as eating junk food or sitting for prolonged periods – when they’re stressed or depressed.
Break the Habit: Talk to your doctor and/or therapist to see how you can reduce your depression or stress. Remember to go easy on yourself – it takes time to improve mental health.
7.) Ignoring Your Health
To reduce your risk of developing a heart condition, it’s important to get tests done before you see more obvious signs of heart problems.
Break the Habit: Regularly attend your health check-ups to reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
8.) Secondhand Smoke
Smoking is one of the worst habits for your heart. Unfortunately, this includes second-hand smoke. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, “Secondhand smoke causes nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United States among nonsmokers.”
Break the Habit: Don’t ever let anyone smoke in your house or car.
Remember that lifestyle changes take time. Incorporate these habits slowly, and don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t stick to them right away. Over time, practice makes perfect!