Whether your routine involves scouring pads and elbow grease or a few quick swipes with a duster, spring is when we traditionally take stock and clean house. At the same time, it’s also a good time to check in on your heart health. 

Having a strong heart is critical to your overall health and well-being. That’s why this spring, while you’re sweeping out the cobwebs, we’re also challenging you to take care of your health and wellness to have a stronger heart. 

Start by looking at the four lifestyle elements that contribute to heart health: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress.

When it comes to diet, there have been a lot of mixed messages and conflicting information about what foods are the healthiest. But from a cardiovascular perspective, the science is clear: eating an anti-inflammatory diet leads to big benefits for your heart. 

The basics of an anti-inflammatory diet include eating more fresh, whole foods, while avoiding processed foods. The Mediterranean diet is a popular example, but any diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and lean meat, while avoiding animal fats, salt, and refined sugar will be anti-inflammatory. 

Next, get moving! Many people believe that everyday activities like chores and gardening provide adequate exercise. Unfortunately, to really benefit your heart, you need to break a sweat. That means engaging in physical activity that elevates your heart rate for at least 25 minutes, ideally four times per week. Even if exercise raises your heart rate by just 20%, that’s still effective in decreasing inflammation in your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure, and controlling your blood sugar levels. 

Getting adequate sleep boosts heart health. Limit alcohol and caffeine, set a regular bedtime, and turn off devices before sleep. And manage stress by spending time with friends and family, taking breaks from social media, and getting outside.

Making small lifestyle changes can lead to big benefits in your cardiovascular health. By taking care of your diet, exercise, sleep, and stress, you can improve your health, have more energy and feel better for years to come. For more information about heart health services on Maui, visit mauihealth.org/hearthealth.

By Wazhma Aslamy, MD, Cardiology, Pacific Permanente Group