Unless heart disease runs in your family, you may not think much about the health of your ticker. However, heart disease is the Number 1 cause of death in the U.S., and one in three deaths is due to heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can help prevent these diseases. First and foremost: If you currently smoke, find the support you need to stop. Smoking increases the risk of both heart disease and stroke by 2-4 times, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Beyond that, these five simple and inexpensive strategies have been shown to help keep your heart healthy. The more you do, the better, but even one can give your ticker a boost.
1. Be Social
“It’s important to maintain a sense of connection,” says Johanna Paola Contreras, MD, an assistant professor at Mount Sinai Hospital. Loneliness and a lack of relationships were associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke in a recent study in the journal Heart.
“Keep in touch with family, friends and people who you are close to and who make you feel well,” Contreras recommends. Getting together in person is best, but video chatting or calling are also good alternatives.
Additionally, do things that make you feel good, such as walking in a park you love, eating foods that energize you, volunteering at an animal shelter or dancing around your home like nobody’s watching.
“If you feel good about yourself, you will make better health choices,” Contreras says.