3 Tips to Improve Heart Health

01 February 2020
Yoga instructor demostrates warrior pose in Ridgewood YMCA studio

The heart is your body’s most important muscle. It beats about 100,000 times a day, and moves 1.5 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. All of that work helps us breathe, move, and live.

February is American Heart Month, an annual event promoting heart health and raising awareness about heart disease, the leading cause of death in America.

Here are three tips to keep your ticker going strong: 

1. Move more. Sitting is the new smoking. If you work at a desk, try to take regular breaks during the day to move around. Go for a stroll on your lunch break and enjoy regular exercise in your leisure time. The goal is 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate exercise. That includes any activity that gets you moving around, from a jog to a walk to playing with your kids. This kind of physical activity can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

2. Manage stress. Everyone reacts to stress in different ways, but it often causes a lot of problems: overeating, loss of sleep, headaches, irritability. When stressed, our bodies release adrenaline, which increases our heart rate and blood pressure. That’s why it’s critical to manage stress. Take a few minutes a day to breathe deeply. Try exercising, including a relaxing yoga or stretching session at the Y. There are also several great meditation apps, which guide you through the process. This self-care will improve your overall health and heart health. 

3. Get good sleep. Sleep is critical to a strong body and heart and is just as important as exercise. Adults should aim for a solid 7-8 hours per night. To help, set a digital curfew. Put your phone and other tech devices away an hour before bed. They make it harder to fall asleep because the artificial blue light delays the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Also, don’t wake up early to work out if it means cutting sleep short. That could actually do more harm than good.


For more resources on improving your heart health, see all the health & fitness offerings at your local YMCA in New York City! 

Also stop by one of our free blood pressure screenings this month. Find a location near you to learn more.