The NSTEP Blog

Illustration by Quinn

5 Tips to Take Care of Your Heart

"My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep. The more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite."

Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub…do you hear that? Can you feel it? Listen… Your heart is telling you something…you are ALIVE.

Greetings NSTEPpers!

Welcome to heart month! Amidst our busy lives, we may only give a little thought to this impressive organ until something doesn’t feel right. If you are exercising vigorously or suffering from a broken heart, it will surely get your attention. (yes, it’s possible to feel a broken heart, called Broken Heart Syndrome, caused by a rush of stress hormones or a stressful physical event). But good news! We can also feel when a heart is in love and happy.

Here are five simple and actionable steps you can take to care for your heart:

1. Laugh!

It can reduce stress and boost your immune system.

Here’s a little joke to get you started: Do you like vegetables? Because I love you from my head tomatoes!

2. Eat to thrive

Increase your consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and fish.

These foods are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats. They are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

3. Stay active

Physical activity is one of the best things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Get your heart beating with at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Find movements that fit your lifestyle, and remember there are benefits of something as simple as walking.

For example, walking improves:

  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Memory and concentration
  • Sleep and immunity
  • Strengthens bones and muscles
  • Reduces stress

4. Get adequate sleep

Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night is ideal. Getting enough sleep helps keep your blood pressure down. In contrast, insufficient sleep causes your blood pressure to remain high for extended periods, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Additionally, suppose you suspect you have sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops and starts while sleeping. In that case, getting tested is important as this is a common risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Sleep apnea can cause your airway to partially block, possibly leading to irregular heartbeat, stroke and high blood pressure.

5. Be social

Studies show that social connections, intimacy, and love help our hearts and blood vessels thrive. Bonus…it can also increase your lifespan!

However, the benefits are not just from romantic love. Your love for friends, family, and pets can increase your dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for making you feel calm and relaxed. This may significantly reduce stress and blood pressure in the long term.

It is said that love has no language barriers (I agree!). 

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are different ways to say “I Love You.” How many languages do you recognize? 

  • Je T’aime
  • Kocham Cię
  • Eu te amo
  • Jeg elsker dig
  • நான் உன்னை நேசிக்கிறேன்
  • Nāṉ uṉṉai nēcikkiṟēṉ
  • Ti voglio bene
  • त्वां कामयामि
  • Ik houd van je

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