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How do I Improve my Cardiovascular Health?

Adrien-Luc Sanders
Adrien-Luc Sanders

Cardiovascular health is a major concern for many people. A healthy heart can help to stave off cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and many other ailments. Multiple factors are involved in improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, although much of it relates maintaining a healthy body in general. Proper exercise, a good diet, and low body fat are a good way to start. Minimizing stress can also promote a healthy heart and avoid complications from cardiovascular issues.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is one step towards good cardiovascular health. Excess body fat can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. High cholesterol causes buildup in blood vessels, which restricts blood flow, increases blood pressure, and places undue stress on both vessel walls and the heart. Obstructions can lead to a stroke or a heart attack. One way to minimize cholesterol and reduce body weight is to maintain a healthy diet low in fatty, high-cholesterol foods.

The cardiovascular system.
The cardiovascular system.

Another way is to exercise. Burning calories through exercise reduces body fat and increases muscle. Exercise also stimulates the heart muscle and promotes healthy blood flow. Good circulation and a strong heart are both part of a healthy cardiovascular system. Regular exercise will help to promote an active metabolism, which, in turn, allows the body to burn fat at a faster rate. Prolonged physical activity can also help to strengthen the respiratory system, aiding in maintaining steady breathing — which helps minimize strain on the lungs and heart during exercise.

Regular health checks can help diagnose cardiovascular health issues.
Regular health checks can help diagnose cardiovascular health issues.

Physical exercise is also a good way of relieving stress. Stress is another major factor in poor cardiovascular health. Not only does it cause increased vascular buildup over time, but it can cause high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. To maintain a healthy heart, avoid stressful situations if possible.

When stress cannot be avoided, try to control your reactions to it. Reduce daily stress through meditation exercises, yoga, breathing techniques, or other methods of relaxation. If suffering from severe high blood pressure, you may want to consult a physician about prescription medications for managing your blood pressure. Therapy may also offer an effective professional guide for managing stress.

Reducing the amount of cigarettes smoked per day can improve one's cardiovascular health.
Reducing the amount of cigarettes smoked per day can improve one's cardiovascular health.

Smoking is another contributor to poor cardiovascular health. Even reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day can drastically improve your health, although the strongest results come from quitting entirely. Another benefit of not smoking is reduced risk of cancer and lung disease, as well as improved overall respiration. Tobacco smoke can have a damaging effect on the pulmonary system, and can lead to cardiovascular disease.

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Discussion Comments

clintflint

@KoiwiGal - That might be a good strategy for someone who is young and relatively healthy, but please be careful if you are older and have any kind of pre-existing heart condition.

My father became determined to improve his cardiovascular health (and his appearance) when he was past middle age and he ended up pushing himself too hard and gave himself a heart attack.

Definitely do the exercise, but get into it gradually and know your limits. There's a reason they always put that warning to consult your doctor before starting the gym or a new exercise regime.

KoiwiGal

@browncoat - Sometimes knowing those kinds of facts can help and sometimes it doesn't. I know I took a while to give up and when I did it was more to do with the fact that I simply couldn't afford to smoke anymore than because I was attempting any heart disease prevention.

One thing that I did find was helpful though was to start exercising once I gave up as an incentive to stay quit. I'd exercise until I was gasping and then imagine having a cigarette right then. My lungs were having none of it.

browncoat

Giving up smoking is one of the very best things you can do for your heart health. I smoked for a long time and even though I knew it wasn't a great idea, I didn't realize how bad it was until I took a biology class at university and the professor explained.

Not only does it harden your arteries and encourage them to clog up, it also can hurt you in the short term because it causes your blood vessels to contract while you're smoking.

So not only does it increase your chances of a heart attack in the long term even just getting a hit of nicotine increases it even further for about half an hour.

That's not even getting into the fact that it's so much harder to exercise when you're a smoker and that's going to effect your heart as well.

I know giving up is difficult, but it is something that should be considered very strongly if you want to increase your health.

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