This month is American Heart Month, and it may have you thinking about making positive changes to improve your cardiac health and ensure a longer life. While you probably know by now that following a healthy diet, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, and exercising regularly are all part of a heart-healthy routine, you might not know some of the more shocking habits that could hurt your heart. This article will take a look at the ways you may be damaging your cardiovascular health on a daily basis without even realizing it.
Even if you get plenty of sleep during the day, working nights can be problematic for your heart, because your body will never have a regular circadian rhythm when you’re up all night. If you are a night shift worker, or you do not maintain a regular schedule for your job, you’ll want to take extra preventive steps elsewhere. Scheduling annual checkups with your primary care physician is a good start. You might also make sure that you nourish your body with healthy, balanced meals to keep you energized through odd work shifts.
Driving Your Commute
A long commute to work can be much more than a simple inconvenience. Studies have shown that people with long work commutes are less likely to exercise regularly and much more likely to have high blood pressure and excess belly fat. Plus, the drive itself may be a significant source of stress that is hard on your heart. If you cannot avoid the long drive to work, try putting on a relaxing playlist or listening to a book on tape to ease your stress during rush hour. You might also reduce the stress of your drive by carpooling so you have company during the ride (and save the environment in the process)!
If your partner frequently complains about your snoring, you might want to schedule an appointment with the doctor to discuss your nightly sleep. Chronic snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder that causes you to unconsciously wake up throughout the night due to pauses in breathing. Not only will sleep apnea lead to regular fatigue, but it can elevate your blood pressure, put you at risk for arrhythmia, and significantly raise your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Avoiding Social Outings
Maintaining an active social life or spending time with family can do lots of good for your heart, because social interactions will help to curb stress and promote happiness. Owning a pet or volunteering in the community can also have a positive effect on your heart.
Exercising Too Much
Exercise is generally good for your heart, but it can be harmful when you exercise too much at once. When it comes to exercise, you should spread your activity out over the week rather than trying to fit a week’s worth of exercise into one session. Getting too much activity or adding strenuous activity to your routine when you are not in great shape can lead to chest pain, which should be a red flag that you’re pushing yourself too hard.
Caring for your heart is a beneficial practice at any age, because the impact of good habits can last for a lifetime. For more tips on the best strategies for improving your heart health, stay connected with MeMD.