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Choices. Every day we’re faced with hundreds of them. In the moment, they might seem trivial. But all those small decisions we make each day, once combined, can add up to either positive or negative effects on our health. Think about it. Who you are right now is the product of all those little daily choices and habits you’ve made up till now. Pretty amazing, right?
That’s why, every once in awhile, it’s important to check in with how you’re doing with your current heart healthy habits. Because really, the tips I’m sharing here, you all already KNOW. But life is noisy, and we’re all busy, and it’s way too easy to neglect doing the things we know we should be doing.
So let this be your reminder to show your heart some love! Adopting healthy life habits not only can extend your lifespan, it also can extend your HEALTHspan— giving you more healthy years— keeping you on the road for more incredible RV adventures!
You’re in Control of Your Journey.
Your heart is the epicenter of your health. It’s working every second of every day to power your circulatory system, delivering oxygen and nutrients around your body. That’s why embracing a healthy lifestyle, starting at any age, is so crazy important. Doing so protects you from heart disease, which is currently the number one cause of death in the US (over 2,000 people die each day from heart disease in the US). Even if you have a family history of heart disease, the good news is that it’s still largely preventable. By embracing the heart-healthy habits listed here, you’re investing in a healthier and happier future.
Show Your Heart Some Love With These 7 Lifestyle Habits:
1: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
Just like any muscle in your body, your heart grows stronger with exercise, too. It can’t be stated enough how important staying physically active is to your heart health. RVers have an edge on this, since you have unlimited options for activity-focused trips, whether that means packing hiking shoes, cross-country skis, or your bikes. Besides, getting exercise during your RV adventures is way more fun than hitting the gym. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day. But don’t stop there! Too much sitting in your days isn’t good for your heart either. Make sure you’re getting lots of natural movement as well, on top of your daily workout sessions.
2: Travel and Have Adventures:
Good news, RVers! Travel is good for your heart. A Syracuse University study found that frequent vacationers have a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Vacation time decreases stress hormones like cortisol, along with inflammatory cytokines, which can otherwise be a pathway to heart disease. And of course, there’s the activity-factor of travel. Travel is one of the best motivators to get us moving. Being somewhere new puts you in an ‘exploration’ frame of mind, so you’re moving around and getting natural exercise that you may not even realize you’re getting.
3: Choose Healthy Foods:
One of the best ways to regulate your blood pressure is to make sure you’re eating a wide array of healthy foods. According to the American Heart Association, you shouldn’t get hung up on specific foods as being either “good” or “bad”. Rather, focus on your overall dietary pattern that’s based on your preferences, lifestyle, and culture. You can make this fun on your RV trips by seeking out local farms and markets where you can stock up on fresh in-season foods. Use your local finds to explore new recipes you can make in your RV. With a little creativity, eating healthy doesn’t have to be a punishment. It can be the best part of the trip!
4: Watch Your Portion Size:
The most common mistake we make when trying to eat healthfully isn’t WHAT we eat, it’s how much. Chronic overeating causes the neurological signals that tell the brain when you’re full to malfunction. You stop realizing you’re full until you’re OVERfull. On a small scale, it makes you sluggish, bloated, and causes stomach troubles. Much worse, it leads to obesity and all its associated health risks, including heart disease. I won’t downplay the difficulty of implementing portion control by telling you to simply eat less. I recognize that it’s much harder than that. Instead, work towards being mindful about your nutrition choices. Educate yourself about what’s an appropriate portion size for you. Read labels. Do what you can to work towards resetting those malfunctioning signals.
5: Nurture Relationships:
When we think of ways to keep our hearts healthy, we often focus on diet and exercise. But did you know that having strong social connections boosts the cardiovascular system, too? In fact, research shows that being lonely or lacking interpersonal ties can be as harmful to our hearts as smoking or high cholesterol. In the decades-long Harvard Study of Adult Development, the researchers discovered that the people who were the most satisfied with their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Perhaps Huey Lewis really did know what he was talking about in his Power of Love song from back in the 1980’s. It might—truly—just save your life.
6: Ditch Stress:
Sure, it’s normal to have stress in your life. Some stress is even good for us. But when you get stressed out over long periods of time, that’s when it can seriously affect your heart health. That’s because chronic stress puts the body into constant fight-or-flight mode, leaving high amounts of stress hormones constantly floating around your body. This can more than double your risk for heart disease. There’s a wide range of relaxation practices you can try, from meditation to simple breathing techniques. Making time for things you enjoy in life—like RV travel—is one of the most powerful ways to tame your stress.
7: Get Outside:
Getting outside does your heart good, in more ways than one. Being in sunlight is part of human nature. It bolsters your immune system, exposes you to Vitamin D, and keeps your circadian rhythm on track—all things beneficial to your heart’s health. Being outside promotes serotonin regulation, too, boosting your mood and lowering your stress levels. Another, more obvious, reason that getting outside improves your heart health is that the outdoors makes everything more enjoyable, even exercise. So, the more we get outside, the more likely it is we’re being active. There’s no question that exercise is critical to heart health. And since your heart loves outdoors and exercise both, being active outside is like a double dose of the good stuff your heart loves.
Well?! Looking back at this list of 7 heart healthy habits, how did you do? If you’re like me, you probably have some you’re much better at than others. And that’s okay. It’s easier to see what you need to work on. As RVers, we’re fortunate that some of these come easy for us, but there’s always room for improvement. So! As you head out on your next RV adventures, remember to show your own heart some love. After all, you can’t beat a healthy heart!❤️