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12 small steps to improve your heart health

Julia Park
Hands on heart

Transporting oxygen to every part of your body, sending nutrients and hormones, eliminating waste — our hearts are hard workers. They don’t get PTO, and they clock in before we even leave the womb.

Experts suggest our heart beats about 115,000 times per day. Over the course of our lives, our heart beats an average of 2.5 billion times. But while we may take the consistent and steady drumbeat of our hearts for granted, the work our heart does can take a toll.

When we don’t pay attention to our heart health, we often force our hearts to work harder, causing them to wear out faster and prompting health scares like heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. 

Elevating your care by using advanced tools such as Muse EEG headbands, helps to deepen our understanding of heart health, guiding us towards more effective habits and improvements for a healthier heart. 

Continue reading to discover what you can do today to boost your heart health!

Why is heart health important?

Heart-healthy living refers to understanding your risk for heart health issues, making choices that support a strong and healthy heart, and taking steps to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

When we break down heart health, there are a few components to consider:

  • Cholesterol
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar levels

Some of the most important risk factors for heart disease that impact your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol include:

  • Stress levels
  • Diet choices
  • Movement and physical activity
  • Lifestyle choices

The dangers of poor heart health

One day of sitting still or experiencing stress isn’t going to be the end of the world, but over a lifetime, these experiences can add up. 

For example, chronic stress often leads to high blood pressure, which weakens the walls of blood vessels and causes plaque build-up. This plaque can break off and travel through the blood vessels. If it gets stuck in a smaller vessel, it can create blood flow issues and lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The three greatest consequences of poor heart health are:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

It’s important to remember that the brain and heart heavily rely on each other and when one is weak, it impacts the other significantly.

A recent study by the American Heart Association found that the higher one’s cardiovascular risk score is, the worse they scored for cognitive function tests. This proves that when we take care of our heart health to reduce its risks, we also help protect our brain health.

Below we’ll walk through some simple steps you can take to support sustainable and holistic heart health.

12 tips for a stronger and healthier heart

Good lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on helping your heart stay healthy and strong for the long haul and preventing heart disease.

1. Know your big 3 and personal risk

The first step to long-term heart health is knowing your unique risk factors and where you currently stand with your big three: blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Talk to your doctor to test for your big three and discuss the best approach for your heart health.

2. Get nutty with your food

Research has found that eating nuts rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help lower the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides. Both LDL and triglycerides are associated with plaque buildup within the arteries, so try adding walnuts, almonds, cashews, or pistachios to your heart-healthy diet.

Healthy food

3. Eat all the colors of the rainbow

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can deliver essential nutrients like Vitamin C and beta-carotene, a type of Vitamin A. These vitamins double as antioxidants that can reduce plaque build-up in arteries and the likelihood of blockages later on.

4. Bring more laughter into your life

Laughter is a fantastic natural medicine that acts as a stress reliever. In this way, research has found that laughing more can have a positive effect on our immune function, and finding time to laugh every day has been linked with lower rates of heart disease and improved blood flow.

5. Book more quality time with friends

Just like laughter can have a positive effect on our body’s health and resilience, so can spending meaningful time with loved ones! Research has found that time with family can positively impact our mood, stress levels, cardiovascular health, and more, so make sure to schedule time with the ones you love most.

Man sleeping

6. Prioritize quality sleep

The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that over one-third of Americans don’t get enough quality sleep each night. Quality sleep is essential to replenish your body’s resources and heal daily wear and tear, so make sure to prioritize your 7-9 hours a night.

If you're having trouble sleeping, the Muse S Headband, may be the solution you need. Proven to increase by 20% in sleep quality, this EEG sleep tracker tracks your brain activity while you sleep and shows you how you're sleeping (your sleep position, deep sleep level, and more), which can help you understand what you need to do to sleep better.

7. Consider whether weight loss could benefit you

Extra weight can make our heart work harder to circulate blood throughout our body. Over time, the heart may be unable to sustain this level of effort. Researchers from Washington University have found that losing even just 10% of our weight can lead to benefits for heart health and blood pressure.

8. Cut smoking from your life

Smoking tobacco is highly associated with poor heart health and an increased risk of blood clots. While it can be challenging, cutting smoking from your life can make a huge difference in your heart’s longevity.

9. Reduce your screen time

One study found that adults who spent an average of 2+ hours in front of screens unrelated to work had nearly twice the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart surgeries compared to those who consistently logged under 2 hours of screen time a day.

10. Practice meditation

While we may be a tad biased here at Muse, meditation has been well-researched for its stress-relieving effects and benefits for heart health. For instance, one study showed that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) meditation, like body scan meditation, has been linked to impressive improvements among individuals with heart conditions, showing a 39% improvement in quality of life.

A systematic review of the research by the American Heart Association also found that meditation may positively impact blood pressure and have benefits for coronary heart disease.

Even a quick, 5-minute meditation can be impactful and practiced anywhere. You can use Muse meditation wearables and meditate with the app. Set a 5-minute session, be immersed and focused, and see how calm and still you were in those few minutes.

11. Meditation alternative: Breathwork

Breathing exercises have been found to be an effective tool for heart disease prevention by targeting stress management. Explore 10 breathing exercises to begin learning to cultivate inner calm on command.

12. Don’t be complacent — heal your stress!

While it may feel like stress only takes an emotional toll on us, it impacts almost every level of our health and ability to function. Make sure you’re keeping your stress in check by scheduling stress-relieving activities throughout the week!

A woman meditating

Use Muse to improve your heart health 

Heart meditations have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, particularly by managing stress. With 92% accuracy in stress detection through advanced sensors, Muse headbands provide instant feedback, helping you understand and manage your stress levels effectively.

Here’s how you can start a heart meditation with your Muse headband:

  1. Launch the Muse app and tap Heart under the Biofeedback Meditations.
  2. Tap any of the soundscapes to start the session.
  3. Select a time and connect your Muse headband by Bluetooth.
  4. Get comfortable in your spot by sitting down or lying on your back and start breathing. 
  5. Notice the soundscapes reflect your real-time heartbeat. When your heart rate increases, the sounds gently become faster and noisier. As your heart rate slows, the sounds will slow and quiet. 

    You can also follow a specific meditation like the Loving-Kindness meditation to enhance your session.

Heart meditations, in particular, help you gain awareness of how your emotions, focus, physical state, or breath ultimately influence your heart rate. As you continue to practice heart meditations, you’ll not only improve your heart health but also empower you to make positive changes for your overall wellness.

Ready to get started with Muse? Check out our state-of-the-art EEG headbands today and start improving your heart health. >>

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