At least 70 percent of us are taking heart-healthy steps, and that’s smart: A recent study in the journal JAMA suggests a strong heart pumps more virus-killing, tissue-healing blood cells to lungs, which can reduce the risk of serious complications from a respiratory virus like COVID-19 by up to 62 percent. These a.m. tweaks protect your heart all day.
Choose a gentler alarm.
Not fond of that jolt you get every time your alarm goes off? Neither is your heart! According to University of Connecticut researchers, opting for a soothing wake-up sound can cut your morning blood pressure surge by as much as 20 points! Your best bet: Try a classical radio station on your alarm clock or download nature sounds onto your cellphone.
Lazing around in bed after you wake up is good for your heart! Taking five minutes before standing up to breathe deeply while gently stretching your arms, legs, and back can cut your risk of heart-straining stress hormone surges in half, according to British researchers.
Boost the benefits by rubbing your scalp for 30 seconds. University of Miami researchers say that prompts the release of a hormone that relaxes arteries and keeps blood pressure low for up to three hours.
Toss in nuts.
Topping your breakfast cereal or yogurt with a handful of nuts could cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 46 percent, suggests research in the journal Nutrients. Explains study author Emilio Ros, M.D., nuts brim with nutrients (phenolics) that reduce your production of artery-clogging cholesterol, prevent risky clots, plus help your heart pump strongly.
Tip: Roasted nuts contain twice as many phenolics as nuts that have just been blanched!
Enjoy breakfast outside.
Soaking up 15 minutes of morning sun kick-starts your liver’s production of artery-clearing HDL cholesterol, reducing heart disease risk by 25 percent, say Boston University researchers. Adds endocrinologist Michael Holick, M.D., the sun also prompts your skin to make vitamin D — an artery-relaxing nutrient that can cut the risk of high blood pressure by 75 percent.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.