60 Seconds to a Healthier Heart

Let’s shed some light on heart disease for a moment, because this month is heart health month, and nine out of ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease[1]. Heart disease does not discriminate; regardless of your gender, age or ethnic background, there is no better time than now for each and every Canadian to start giving his or her heart a little more TLC.

80% of heart disease and stroke cases are preventable through diet and lifestyle modifications[2]. Even though the thought of tasking yourself with diet and lifestyle changes may seem daunting, there are easy steps you can incorporate into your daily routine to help reduce your risk of heart disease, many of which can be done in a minute or less!

Can you do any of these in 60 seconds today?

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health, but a heart- healthy diet consisting of good fat, fibre, fresh fruit and veggies and anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation in your body, one of the leading factors for heart disease.

  • Grab a fruit high in fibre and nutrients, such as an apple, for a snack, or throw some berries into your morning smoothie or oatmeal.
  • Instead of reaching for that steak when you’re at the grocery store today, reach for a bright orange wild salmon fillet instead.
  • Want to pack an extra nutritious punch? Swap your usual midday snack for an easy, heart healthy option. Avocados are a great source of "good" fat and fibre, and their creaminess makes them super satisfying, too.
  • Break off a dark chocolate square. Dark chocolate is delicious and contains heart-healthy antioxidants, as a bonus!
  • When you’re preparing your dinner tonight, add a sprinkle of turmeric to your dish. You won’t be able to taste much, but know that you’ll be getting a healthy boost for your heart.
  • Instead of ordering your usual midday coffee, switch it up and ask for a green tea instead.

Stress has been shown to increase inflammation, and when the body is under stress, it naturally produces a stress hormone called cortisol. High cortisol levels lead to high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats and blood clots, making you more at risk for a heart attack. Pro tip: stress less.

  • Whether you’re at home, at work or in rush hour traffic, simply take a few seconds to concentrate on deep breathing. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress. Because when you’re relaxed and concentrating on your breathing, the extra oxygen helps to calm the brain.
  • Feeling stressed? Can’t fit any more commitments into your schedule? Say NO to something today; that’s something that only takes a second. Don’t take on more than you can handle.

In addition to the physical benefits that daily exercise gives your body, it has also been shown to help lower your risk or risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, stress levels, high blood pressure and diabetes, to name a few. Want even more benefits of exercise? Even within a few weeks of regular physical activity, you can start to see noticeable differences, such as lowered blood pressure [3].

  • Try “deskercises,” such as simple stretches or squats done at your desk, or take a minute to get up and walk around the office. A sedentary job can have a big impact on how many hours of physical activity you get each day.
  • Take a look at what fitness classes are offered in your area, and sign up for a trial session. Use today as a starting point for trying a new activity, whether it's yoga, Pilates, joining a group exercise class or searching for fun and exciting hiking trails nearby.
  • Park a little further than you usually do when you run your errands today, or make an excuse to get up and walk to grab your lunch at work today.

Don’t like to eat fish? You may want to consider adding this simple step to your daily routine. Omega-3 essential fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation in the body while helping to lower triglycerides, heartbeat and blood pressure. Growing research also shows that vitamin D can help improve our overall health, and there may be a correlation between heart disease and low vitamin D levels.

Do you have any quick heart- healthy tips you’d like to share? Post them in the comments below!


[1] http://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/risk-and-prevention
[2] http://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/risk-and-prevention
[3] http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/stay-active/benefits-of-physical-activity