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MAY 07, 2024

Heart Health: Warning Signs, Nutritional Advice, and Ideal Exercises

From proper diet to ideal exercises, we’re talking all things heart health to keep you ticking stronger for longer.

Read time: 6 minutes

What use is healthy living if your heart isn’t in it? Need someone to get to the heart of the matter? Hoping the heart puns will stop soon? Yeah, we hear you. We have our finger on the... pulse.

Ok, in all seriousness, your heart health is a huge aspect of everyone’s overall wellbeing. And yet it's often overshadowed by the grind and demands of daily life. Think about it, our hearts work tirelessly, pumping blood through our bodies, only to be let down by poor dietary choices and a subpar exercise routine.

Well no more! In this article, we're going to explore the warning signs of declining heart health, discuss foods that can enhance cardiac function, review beneficial vitamins and supplements, and emphasize the importance of professional medical advice.

Recognizing the Warning Signs

Heart health can be a silent killer, making it of the utmost importance to recognize the signs before they escalate into severe issues. Here are the key symptoms to watch for.

Chest Discomfort

The most common sign of heart danger is pain or discomfort in the chest, which can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or a painful sensation that may come and go.

Shortness of Breath

Often occurring before or during chest discomfort, this can also indicate that your heart is struggling.

Heart Palpitations

Unusual heart rhythms or a feeling that your heart is racing can be a warning sign.


Feeling unusually tired can also be a symptom of heart disease, especially if it's accompanied by other symptoms.


Things like fluid retention in your feet, ankles, legs, or abdomen can indicate heart failure.

Dizziness or Lightheadedness

Again, on their own they can have several meanings but these symptoms can occur if your heart isn't pumping enough blood to your brain.

Awareness of these symptoms is the first step in taking proactive measures to maintain heart health.

Perfect Foods for a Healthy Heart

Unsurprisingly, what you eat significantly impacts your health, and your heart is no different. So by incorporating the following foods into your diet, you can help improve heart function.

Fruits and Vegetables

Rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibers, fruits and vegetables are cornerstones of a heart-healthy diet. Focus on a variety of colors to maximize nutrient intake.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like oats, quinoa, and whole wheat help improve blood cholesterol levels and make you feel full, which can help with weight management.

Healthy Fats

Incorporate sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. These fats are beneficial for heart health as they help reduce inflammation and lower the risks of arrhythmia and atherosclerosis.

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, yet another support for heart health, as well as great healthy snacks.


Beans, lentils, and peas are excellent sources of protein and fiber, making them great for your heart.

Vitamins and Supplements for Heart Health

While a balanced diet is the best way to obtain nutrients, certain vitamins and supplements can support heart health:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are perfect for heart health, reducing inflammation and improving cardiovascular function.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): This antioxidant helps cells produce energy and is important for heart function.
  • Fiber Supplements: These can help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health if your dietary intake is lacking.
  • Magnesium: Helping to maintain a healthy heartbeat and often used to prevent heart complications.
  • Green Tea Extract: Known for its antioxidant properties, green tea extract can benefit heart health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood flow.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Exercises for Heart Health

If we're talking about maintaining a healthy heart, we’ve gotta talk exercise. This not only helps improve your cardiovascular system's efficiency, it lowers blood pressure, and helps manage weight. So, here's a detailed step-by-step guide to some of the best exercises for enhancing heart health.


Why It’s Good for your Heart
Because walking is a simple, low-impact activity, it can significantly improve cardiac health by lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.

How to Do It

  • Step 1: Choose comfortable footwear and find a safe place to walk, like a park or walking trail.
  • Step 2: Start with a gentle 5-minute warm-up at a slow pace.
  • Step 3: Gradually increase your speed until you're walking briskly.
  • Step 4: Aim to walk briskly for at least 30 minutes. If you’re just starting, it's okay to break this into shorter sessions.
  • Step 5: Cool down with a 5-minute slower walk and stretch gently.

If you’re curious what a brisk walk feels like, you should be able to comfortably talk but not sing. Yeah, that may sound odd but try it, you’ll see what we mean.


Why It’s Good for your Heart
Cycling helps strengthen heart muscles, lowers resting pulse, and reduces cholesterol levels.

How to Do It

  • Step 1: Choose a properly sized bike and adjust the seat so that your legs have a slight bend even at the pedal’s lowest point.
  • Step 2: Start cycling at a low intensity to warm up.
  • Step 3: Gradually increase the pace and resistance according to your fitness level.
  • Step 4: Aim for at least 30 minutes of continuous cycling, or try interval training for more intensity.
  • Step 5: End with a cool-down period by cycling at a slow pace for 5 minutes.


Why It’s Good for your Heart
Swimming is an excellent workout for your whole cardiovascular system, not only improving your heart rate but also your blood flow, all while being gentle on your joints.

How to Do It

  • Step 1: This may sound obvious but... learn to swim. That’s kind of a necessary prerequisite.
  • Step 2: Begin with a warm-up, swimming slowly for about five minutes.
  • Step 3: Increase your pace and swim laps for 20-30 minutes. Try different strokes to engage all muscle groups.
  • Step 4: Cool down by swimming slowly for another five minutes.
  • Step 5: Stretch out on the side of the pool to end your session.

Strength Training

Why It’s Good for your Heart
Building muscle helps control body fat, improves metabolism, and reduces stress on the heart.

How to Do It

  • Step 1: Start with lighter weights to focus on form and prevent injury.
  • Step 2: Perform exercises targeting major muscle groups. Include movements like squats, presses, and lifts.
  • Step 3: Do 8-12 repetitions per set and aim for 2-3 sets per exercise.
  • Step 4: Ensure each session includes a 5-minute warm-up and cool-down phase.


Why It’s Good for your Heart
Yoga can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve overall heart health.

How to Do It

  • Step 1: Start with basic poses to warm up the body.
  • Step 2: Gradually move into more dynamic sequences or flows that increase heart rate.
  • Step 3: Hold each pose for several breaths or as long as is comfortable.
  • Step 4: Always include a period of relaxation or meditation at the end to help the heart rate normalize.

General Tips for Exercise

  • Consistency is Key: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
  • Listen to Your Body: Never push through pain. If you feel dizzy, excessively breathless, or have chest pain, stop immediately and seek medical advice.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink water before, during, and after exercise to keep your body well hydrated.
  • Mix It Up: Combining different types of exercises can keep your routine interesting and cover all aspects of fitness, from cardiovascular to strength training.

By following these exercises and incorporating them into your weekly routine, you can significantly enhance your heart health. Just remember, it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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