Wouldn’t it be great if all you had to do to boost heart health was enjoy spring’s beauty? Turns out, it is! And that’s great news since a Journal of the American Medical Association study suggests a healthy heart pumps more virus-killing, tissue-healing blood to your lungs, reducing the risk of COVID complications by up to 62 percent.
Hit the snooze button.
Instead of jumping out of bed when the alarm goes off, hit the snooze button and snuggle under the covers for another two minutes. The production of stress hormones spikes when you wake up, but pausing to breathe deeply and slowly, about 10 breaths per minute, calms your nervous system. This quickly blocks that morning stress hormone surge, report Harvard researchers, keeping your blood pressure 10 points lower all morning long.
Let gravity do the work.
Simply stretching your legs offers a similar heart-smart effect as exercise, Italian scientists say. When folks performed daily leg stretches, their circulation improved by up to 30 percent, while their diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) plunged by 21 points in 12 weeks. Study author Emiliano Cè, PhD says stretching dilates blood vessels for better circulation. Try a step stretch: Rest the pads of your feet on a step and let your heels drop
Sit back and take it all in.
Grab a seat on your porch to spot birds flitting by. A recent review shows enjoying the antics of any cute critters for 15 minutes a day lowers your blood pressure by seven points in 24 hours. Study co-author Ken Hayashi, PhD explains that feeling close to nature calms the adrenal glands, reducing their production of pressure-spiking stress hormones.
Unwind with a glass of red.
A wine compound called resveratrol raises the amount of nitric oxide in your arteries by 285 percent, Dutch scientists say, which helps keep blood vessels flexible. Three glasses of red wine a week provide the heart-healthy boost. For added insurance, Fred Pescatore, MD advises supplementing with 500 to 600 milligrams of trans-resveratrol (a form easily absorbed) twice daily.
One to try: Naomi Organic Resveratrol (Buy on Noami W, $39). Note: Check with a doctor before supplementing.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.