In this post we are going to look at three lifestyle changes you can make that will go a long way to helping improve your cardiovascular system, namely reducing stress, quitting smoking and limiting the use of alcohol.
Stress is a natural part of life, so it can’t be eliminated altogether, nor should it be. We need some stress in our life. But when it becomes excessive over a long period of time – chronic – it raises havoc with your cardiovascular system by narrowing the blood vessels and increasing your heartrate over a longer period of time than they were meant to be higher than normal.
Through evolution our body has been conditioned to react to a perceived threat by releasing a hormone called cortisol. It increased our ability to “fight or flight” until the threat was resolved. But this was only supposed to happen occasionally. In today’s world, our bodies recognize many things as threats and so we have more cortisol in our bloodstream over a longer period of time than we were meant to have.
As far as smoking, if you do smoke or use any type of tobacco products, quit … now. Multiple studies have shown that nicotine narrows the blood vessels and thus restricts blood flow. Over time, this reduction of flow raises your risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke and cancer.
Excessive alcohol use has been linked to a number of health issues including increasing your risk for coronary heart disease and stroke. Limit alcohol use to one drink per day for women and two for men. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirts.
Now think about if you have all three of these unhealthy lifestyles? You are under chronic stress, smoke and drink alcohol in excess. Oh … and you don’t get any or enough exercise and you eat unhealthy food. That is a recipe for disaster.