5 ways to improve heart health

Carrie Henderson, Staff Writer

Every 60 seconds, approximately one American dies due to heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every four Americans die of heart disease, adding up to over 600,000 deaths every year.

By exercising, dieting, limiting exposure to tobacco, lowering stress levels and getting enough rest, you can improve heart health dramatically.

1. Exercise

North Greenville University Health Promotion and Wellness Instructor Steven Pearce said, “Recent research has found that low levels of physical fitness contribute to more deaths annually than smoking, diabetes and obesity combined.”

How much exercise is needed to improve heart health?

The American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association and CDC recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week.

 Eating fewer saturated fats can benefit heart health. Photo by Carrie Henderson.

Eating fewer saturated fats can benefit heart health. Photo by Carrie Henderson.

“Start where you are with the goal of meeting those recommendations.  Sessions as short as 10 minutes have been shown to have benefit[s],” Pearce said.

2. Diet

Pearce also recommends eating fewer saturated fats, such as those in fried foods, red meats, pork and dairy; consuming fewer added sugars (like high-fructose corn syrup) and less sodium; and eating more fiber, found in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.

3. Avoid Tobacco 

Pearce also said it is important to not smoke and to also encourage those around you to refrain from smoking. Tobacco consumption causes a serious risk to your heart health. 

4. Lower Stress

Lowering stress levels is also helpful. This also goes back to exercise, as exercise can greatly decrease stress levels.

Studying God’s Word can also decrease stress, according to Pearce.

“Scripture meditation is another way to keep our orientation vertical (on Christ) as opposed to horizontal (on the circumstances)."

5. Get Some Sleep

Sleep is also important as it not only benefits the heart, but also improves the other areas of one’s health.