At the beginning of February, we decided to make this our ‘heart month’ – and not just because of Valentine’s Day.
Did you know that your heart beats around 100,000 times every 24 hours? It’s important to consider how to keep this hard-working muscle healthy.
Fortunately, a lot of common heart issues are highly preventable. The NHS has a good list of methods to maintain your heart.
However, the heart is just the most obvious part of the cardiovascular system. The heart pumps blood, but it’s the blood vessels – arteries, veins and capillaries – that carry it around your body, delivering nutrients and oxygen where they are most needed.
When blood vessels become less elastic – perhaps through ageing combined with a lack of physical activity – the heart must work harder for every one of those 100,000 beats.
Here are five ways you can maintain circulation to address this:
- Stretch. This increases the flow of blood to your tissues and organs, and is particularly important if you have a sedentary lifestyle, for example from working in an office. Getting up for a stretch and stroll pays dividends.
- Exercise. We all know it’s good for our health – even a few minutes of extra walking every day can make an enormous difference.
- Relax! When you’re stressed, your blood vessels constrict, reducing circulation. A hot bath, lunch with a friend or a yoga session – whatever your chosen method, it’s important to put time aside for relaxation.
- Swap out salt. Too much salt in the diet is connected to elevated blood pressure and heart disease, while herbs and spices like mint, coriander and cayenne pepper can give your dishes just as much flavour.
- Get enough of the good stuff. A number of foods are known to boost blood flow, including garlic, ginger and dark chocolate. The right supplement can help too!
So heart health should be thought of as one half of the equation – you can help your heart out by promoting healthy circulation.