A Healthy Heart is a Work of Art
By: Stephanie Underhill
Having a healthy heart is a key component of maintaining a healthy life and a body that is capable of functioning at its highest potential. While it may sometimes seem like an overwhelming challenge to make the necessary lifestyle changes to promote heart health, making small, easily-manageable changes can make the dream of having a healthy heart a reality. These small changes include finding an enjoyable way to be more physically active, eating a delicious yet well-balanced diet, seeking out information on beneficial supplements from qualified health care professionals, and exploring a hobby or interest that promotes calm and inner peace.
Including more physical activity throughout daily life is a simple yet powerful way to promote a healthy heart. The physical activity does not have to be a strenuous activity such as training for a marathon or hiking Mount Everest. Rather, it can be something as simple and enjoyable as playing with the grandchildren more frequently or taking a moonlit walk after dinner every night. Any activity that gets the body moving and the heart pumping will have the favorable benefits of improving physical endurance and strengthening the heart’s ability to do its job properly.
Along with including more physical activity in the daily routine, implementing a well-balanced yet still enjoyable diet is a vitalcomponent of promoting heart health. When considering making healthful changes to one’s diet, it is often assumed that sweeping changes must be made, such as eliminating all sweets or cutting all fat from one’s diet, in order to bring about the desired health changes. Fortunately, this is not the case. In order to improve one’s health through the diet, it is important to consume a wide variety of nutrients, including foods with moderate amounts of sugars and with healthy fats. Following a balanced diet is not about deprivation; rather, it is about balancing out indulgences with an overall healthful diet based largely on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, wholesome fats, and lean proteins, with the specific balance of these foods depending on one’s own body composition and long-term goals. As examples of how small changes in diet can have a great impact on health, simply switching out breads and pastas made from refined grains for ones made from whole grainsor adding a side salad to dinner meals as frequently as possible can go a long way toward promoting optimal health by giving the body the vitamins, minerals, and other components that it requires and thrives on. By eating the foods that provide the most complete and essential building blocks for the body’s cells and tissues, it is possible to give the body and the heart the fuel that they need in order to function properly, repair past damages, and ward off future issues.
Although it is important to eat a well-balanced diet that provides the body with the raw materials and energy it needs to function properly and optimally, it is sometimes necessary and/or highly beneficial to include supplements in one’s routine to provide missing components and further support for the body. In conjunction with a health care professional’s advice, enhancing the diet with the proper supplements, which can include anything from a calcium supplement to a krill oil supplement, can provide essential building blocks and materials that the body needs but may not be able to sufficiently take in through the diet alone. While the specific benefits of the supplements depend on their particular compositions and functions, incorporating the proper supplements into one’s routine can be highly beneficial in supporting everything from bone development and maintenance to heart health and function.
In addition to physical activity, a well-balanced diet, and necessary supplements, finding an outlet for stress and a way to promote inner peace is important in promoting and maintaining a strong, healthy heart. Because daily life is ripe with stressors and little displeasures that can take a toll on both the mind and the body, finding a healthy outlet for pent-up stress or frustration is essential for maintaining optimal health and well-being. Any activity from meditating to spending time with loved ones to hiking to building model airplanes can provide a way for one to simultaneously let go of stress and soothe the mind. While the particular activity will vary from person to person based on personal interests, it is important to seek out what makes one happy and to make time in this ever-busy world to unwind, enjoy life, and allow the body to recover from the stress it faces every day.
It cannot be denied that it takes effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will promote an optimally-functioning body, heart, and mind; however, this effort does not have to be unmanageable nor does it have to include an all-consuming, grand lifestyle change. Instead, making a series of small, manageable changes can have impressive benefits for both physical health and overall well-being. While each change in itself is only one small action, like making a single brushstroke, when these changes combine, a beautiful piece of artwork – a healthy heart – can be revealed.