You probably already know that heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death in men (and women too, but we’re all about dudes in this post). And you probably also know that to lower your risk of developing heart disease, you should eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep and so on.
This is all good advice worth heeding – and we’re behind it 100%. But it’s nothing you haven’t heard eight million times already. And much of it isn’t exactly fun or easy to follow. However, there are a number of cool things you can do to boost your heart health and live a longer, happier life.
6 heart health tips:
1. Laughter really is the best medicine. While mental stress causes blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow, a good chuckle does just the opposite. In fact, researchers found that the resulting increase in blood vessel diameter after laughter provided benefits similar to aerobic exercise or statin use. (More “Anchorman,” please.)
2. It’s not what you drink, but HOW you drink it. Studies have shown that moderate amounts of alcohol – defined as two drinks a day for men – decreases your risk of heart attack. But binge drinking (seven drinks a day, at least two days a week) increased hardening and narrowing of the arteries. So remember: Don Draper’s a powerhouse, but he’s on TV.
3. Salt isn’t so scary. The American Medical Association found that low salt intake actually increases the risk of dying from heart disease. Holy not-what-we’ve-been-told! But take it with a grain of, um, salt: this only seems to be the case for those with normal blood pressure who are slimmer than the average American and in good health. And while that applies to most people, this isn’t the advice to pass along to those managing heart disease or on a doctor’s-orders reduced-sodium diet.
4. Regular sex is even better than you thought. The American Journal of Cardiology reports that men who have sex twice a week are half as likely to develop heart disease. That is all.
5. Coffee gets your heart pumping – in a good way. While large doses of java can increase the risk for heart rhythm disturbances, moderate coffee drinking (around four cups a day) actually reduces the risk of hospitalization for heart rhythm problems.
6. Man’s best friend = heart’s best friend. Your canine companion isn’t just great company. The American Heart Association reports that dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease – including lower blood pressure, a better cholesterol profile and less vulnerability to stress.
Want more tips? Check out the rest of our series in celebration of National Men’s Health Week.