The following suggestions are small steps that can provide a positive impact on your health:
1. Eat five or more fruits and vegetables each day. They will add nourishment to your diet and create less room for nutrient-empty junk foods.
2. Even ten extra minutes of exercise each day is good for you. A sedentary lifestyle is as bad for you as smoking, so park in the back of the parking lot or take the stairs instead of the elevator—just get up and move!
3. Make sure you receive adequate sleep each night; chronic sleep deprivation has devastating effects on your heart.
4. Don’t worry; be happy (and live longer). Multiple studies have concluded that the happier people are, the less cortisol (the stress-related hormone) they produce. This results in lower blood pressure.
5. Strong social connections can be as beneficial to the heart as smoking cessation. A 2010 joint study found that people with weak social connections had on average 50 percent higher odds of death than people with more solid connections.
6. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Joyous laughter can relax the cardiovascular system. Not only do our brains feel better in the presence of a good laugh—so do our hearts.
**These tips are not meant to replace the recommendations of your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your routine.