As you age, the health of your heart becomes a more pressing issue—and if your family is predisposed for heart disease, the need for heart-healthy habits becomes even more urgent.

Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to improve your heart health and lower the likelihood of developing heart disease and other heart-related ailments. In this blog, Rawlins County Health Center, your preferred Atwood medical center, will give you a few simple ways that you can improve your health and protect your heart in the process.

Take a walk.

If you live a sedentary lifestyle and haven’t exercised in awhile, you’re definitely putting your heart at risk. Obesity and poor circulation are both side effects of a couch potato lifestyle, and they’re both common causes of heart disease as well

However, you don’t have to lift for two hours a day and run marathons to improve your heart health. It all starts with a brisk walk.

Walking is a great way to ease back into shape and improve your heart health—it improves your circulation instantly, burns calories, and it’s a generally rejuvenative and enjoyable activity. More intense exercises like lifting and running put a lot of stress on the body in order for you to improve circulation, making you feel sore and tired. Waking, on the other hand, is energizing, and it has a way of clearing your head and relieving your stress.

Ultimately, a brisk, 45-minute walk four to five times a week will decrease your risk of heart disease, increase your fitness, and make you feel better. What’s not to like?

Adjust your diet.

In a world with long work schedules, limited free time, and plenty of tempting fast-food options, a poor diet is more convenient than ever before—and unfortunately, it accelerates the onset of obesity, harms circulation, and clogs arteries with plaque that can lead to heart disease.

If that sounds like your diet, it’s time to make a few changes. Even adding an extra fruit and vegetable to your daily diet can make a considerable difference for your overall health and decrease the likelihood of developing heart disease. Ultimately, it’s large amounts of sugar (like in the soda you drink every day) that are the most harmful to your heart—if you can replace sugars with healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, you’ll be in a better position to avoid heart disease and achieve health and longevity.

Manage stress.

Poor health isn’t just biological—it’s psychological. All of the stress and anxiety from a grueling work schedule, a lack of sleep, and other personal issues can affect you mentally, and do a number on your physical health in the process. People overloaded by stress have an increased risk for high blood pressure, weight gain, and you guessed it, heart disease—so keeping your stress in check is critical for heart health and health in general.

So how do you manage your stress for improved health? Ultimately, it’s as simple as removing stress factors from your life and doing the things you love most. Your exhaustion from a lack of sleep can cause a great deal of stress, so why not prioritize sleep for awhile and catch up on those Z’s? If your job makes your dread coming into the office every single day, why not look for a job that’s less stressful and more fulfilling? These are just a few steps you can take to reduce your stress and improve your overall quality of life.

It’s also important to do the things that bring happiness and peace to your life—that’s the ultimate key to being stress-free. Schedule out time in your life to do the things you love the most—reading, hiking, hanging out with grandkids, whatever it may be—and stick to these commitments. It can de difficult to get around to the things you love the most when you’re constantly thinking about work and other commitments. However, doing the things you love should be one of your highest priorities if you’re going to preserve or improve your health.

That’s it for part 1 of our series on tips for better heart health. Stay tuned for part 2, and check out our other blogs in the meantime!