It’s human nature to look for little tips and tricks to improve our health. Consider it the search for the Holy Grail of heart health and wellness. Most of us know the obvious tactics: eat better and exercise more. But there’s also a few surprising ways you can bolster your heart health.
Live in a Quiet Neighborhood
Going to bed in a hushed residential area will help your sleep routines, but did you know it can also reduce your chance of having a heart attack?
In 2016, a German study found that the noise caused by highways, landing aircraft, and public transit lines can increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease. The study looked at the patients who died from heart attack over a 10-year period, and found that a disproportionately large number lived in a noisy area. Scientists say the sound of honks and engine revving can lead to the activation of stressors in the nervous system which in turn can take a toll on your cardiovascular health.
For every 10 decibels of roadway traffic noise, your risk of heart attack goes up 12%. To put that into perspective, the average environmental sound that comes from sitting in your car in traffic is 85 decibels.
Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Pull down that sleeping mask and set your alarm clocks wisely — your heart health may depend on it. A 2011 study conducted by the European Heart Journal found people who sleep six hours or less a night were 48% more likely to develop or die from a coronary heart disease. But don’t expect to sleep for 12 hours a night, either. The very same study found that those who overslept, spending nine or more hours in bed, were 38% more likely to develop the same heart conditions.
Love and Laugh
Once you’re awake from your perfect night’s sleep, extend your time in bed by snuggling. This cozy activity releases oxytocin which can help lower blood pressure. Laughing can also contribute, and having a good chuckle dilates blood vessels by up to 22%, which helps with overall blood circulation. Finally, falling in love and having a healthy marriage can also play a positive role in your heart health. Not only does it reduce stress levels, but 10 years of true romance has shown to reduce a woman’s risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. It’s not the most romantic anniversary gift, but it is a practical one.
Eat Round Fruits
This is an eating recommendation, albeit a less conventional one. Fruits such as apples, tomatoes, cranberries, and blueberries each contain an array of nutrients that serve as boosters for your heart. Many red and pink fruits in particular contain a pigment called lycopene, which eaten over time can help cut your coronary disease risk by a quarter. Blueberries contain high levels of anthocyanin, blue or purple tinged pigments that contribute to lower indicators of high blood pressure. Apples and cranberries can also reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol levels.
Caffeine has always had a love-hate relationship with heart health. These days, coffee is being looked at more favorably. A Harvard University Study published in 2015 found that drinking three to five cups of coffee on a regular basis each day can decrease your chance of dying prematurely from any cause, but was especially relevant when it came to heart disease and stroke. Those who regularly drink caffeine can also benefit from lower rates of inflammation, which can be a precursor in many health conditions.
Now that you know these less conventional ways to improve your heart health, it’s time to weave them into the healthy diet and fitness plan you’ve already developed in order to live a long and fruitful life.