Smart Ways for Parents to Take Care of Their Heart Health
As a parent, your primary concern is your kids. Are they eating, sleeping and exercising enough? Are they doing well in school? How is their mental health? As you continuously care for your children, you may forget to take care of yourself and your needs. Maybe one pizza night turned into a month of poor food choices, or maybe you haven’t had time to exercise or get outside in a while. If you neglect yourself long enough, these seemingly small issues may begin to negatively affect heart health.
Luckily, you have plenty of chances to improve your daily routine and boost heart health.
1. Move Your Body
One of the best ways to boost your heart health is to give your ticker — and your body — a workout. Engage in daily physical activity to temporarily raise your heart rate and reduce blood pressure over time.
Improve circulation and reduce your risk of type two diabetes with aerobic exercises like running, cycling, rowing and swimming. Reduce fat, create lean muscle mass and raise good cholesterol with resistance training. This type of exercise might include lifting weights and body-resistance moves like push-ups and squats. Flexibility and balance workouts can also help you maintain stability, prevent falls and improve your range of motion for resistance training and aerobic activities.
2. Spend Time in Nature
Why not take heart health to the next level and exercise outside? Spending time in nature and green spaces is one of the fastest ways to improve your health and happiness. Just 20 minutes in the park can improve well-being and lower stress, blood pressure and heart rate — regardless of whether or not you use that time to exercise.
Make outdoor time a family affair by bringing the kids along. Head to your local playground, go on a hike through the woods or simply lay in your backyard and stare up at the clouds. Doing so will set a good example for your kids, promote parent-child bonding and give you both a dose of vitamin D and relaxation.
3. Brush Your Teeth
The American Dental Association recommends you floss once a day and brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes. However, when it comes to oral hygiene, many people don’t realize the importance of this routine. Sure, brushing and flossing should give you a whiter smile, but it will also lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Neglecting to brush and floss can cause plaque buildup on your teeth. Eventually, this sticky film of bacteria can cause gingivitis and seep into your bloodstream, clogging your arteries and increasing your risk of a heart attack. You might also develop endocarditis, which infects the lining inside your heart’s valves and inner chambers. Therefore, it’s wise to follow a strict oral hygiene routine to promote optimal heart health.
4. Quit Smoking
You already know that smoking is bad for your lungs — and your kids’ if you smoke around them. But did you know that smoking can affect your heart health, too? When you inhale cigarette smoke, more than 7,000 chemicals work their way into your bloodstream and contaminate every organ in your body. These toxic substances damage your heart and blood vessels, which can ultimately lead to cardiovascular disease.
Protect you and your kids’ heart health by kicking this bad habit to the curb. Find a healthier alternative like nicotine patches to ease yourself off cigarettes and prevent any more damage to your heart and blood vessels. It’s also beneficial to share the dangers of smoking with your children. Once they understand the potential risks, they can make the wise choice to never begin smoking in the first place.
5. Enjoy Good Food
Eating good food is another brilliant way to be a good example and take care of your heart. Fill your fridge and cupboards with fruits, vegetables and whole grains to add more color to your plate. Cook at home so you know exactly what kinds of ingredients end up in your food. Most importantly, avoid overeating. It is possible to have too much of a good thing, even when it comes to nutritious foods, so try to control your portion sizes and eat intuitively.
Nourishing yourself with whole, unprocessed foods can do wonders for your heart, from lowering your blood pressure to minimizing your risk of obesity. A diet low in saturated fats and high in fiber can also substantially reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
A Grateful Heart is a Healthy Heart
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do for your heart is to practice gratitude. Recognizing and giving thanks for life’s many blessings — including your family and health — can improve your mood, sleep and your cardiac wellness. Keep a gratitude journal to practice thankfulness each day and slowly but surely cultivate a healthier, happier heart.