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Protect Your Heart—And Your Brain--with 5 Easy Lifestyle Tips

By now you are probably aware that what is good for the heart is good for the brain. Studies have shown that heart health is connected to a risk for dementia so when you take action to protect your heart, you might also be improving your cognitive health too.

Here are five things just about anyone can do to keep their heart pumping and possibly also keep their brain in shape too:

  1. Get moving. You don’t have to become a gym rat or train for the Olympics to keep your heart healthy. There are many studies citing the benefits of a walk, including one that found 5.5 miles per week of walking can lower the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure by as much as 31%. This exercise can also help you drop any excess weight, which can help to lower blood pressure.
  2. Floss your teeth. Well, brush and floss and stay on top of your dental hygiene. While more research needs to be done, the Mayo Clinic notes that there is a connection between gum disease and an increased risk of developing heart disease and that poor dental health can increase the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can then get to the heart valves.
  3. Stay away from smoke. For good reason there are warning labels on cigarettes about the harmful effects of smoking, but just being around secondhand smoke is also toxic and can have a negative impact on your heart health.
  4. Stand up. “Sitting is the new smoking” has been said a lot in recent years and research has found a higher chance of cardiovascular disease from sitting too much—even if you exercise a lot too. See if you can get a standing desk at work and other ways to change your body’s position from just being in a seat.
  5. Catch some Z’s. Sleeping less than six hours a night can double your risk of stroke or heart attack, one study found. There are many benefits to sleep so don’t skimp on it.

When it comes to implementing any of these lifestyle changes start by setting achievable goals, check back in with yourself regularly to see if anything has changed, and consider making these changes with others to keep it fun and all of you accountable. Also consult your health care provider if you have questions about your heart health.

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