Heart health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, especially as we age. Taking care of our heart can help prevent a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. And research shows that for better or worse, 80% of married couples share heart disease and risk factors. So you can help your partner be healthier by being more mindful of your own heart health.
“Our data suggest that risk factors and behaviors track together for couples,” said Samira Mora, who is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Rather than thinking about interventions for individuals, it may be helpful to think about interventions for couples or whole families. And it’s important for people to think about how their health and behaviors may influence the health of the person(s) they are living with. Improving our own health may help others.”
So this Valentine’s day, think of the ways you and your partner can improve your health and relationship at the same time by engaging heart-healthy activities together! Here are some ideas:
Exercise regularly: Exercise is a great way to keep the heart healthy and strong. Couples can exercise together by going for walks, doing light yoga or tai chi, swimming, or taking dance classes. Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and improve overall heart health.
Eat a heart-healthy diet: Eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Try out new recipes together and aim to make your meal as colorful as possible with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Reduce the amount of processed foods and saturated fats in your diet to help maintain heart health.
Get enough sleep and practice good sleep hygiene: Lack of sleep can have negative effects on heart health, so it’s important to get enough quality sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and create a relaxing bedtime routine.
Manage stress: Stress can have a negative impact on heart health, so it’s important for couples to find ways to manage it. Try stress-reducing activities with your spouse, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Spend time in nature taking a walk in the park or gardening to help reduce stress and improve heart health.
Play games that require physical activity: Play games together that require physical activity, such as badminton, table tennis, or pickleball. This can help improve heart health while also providing a fun social activity.
Volunteer for physical activities: Volunteering for physical activities, such as helping with a community garden or assisting with a charity walk could help improve heart health while also giving back to the community. Couples can volunteer together, providing a fun and meaningful activity while also improving their health.
Try a new physical activity together: Try a new physical activity together, such as kayaking or horseback riding. This can be a fun way to improve heart health and bond as a couple. Exploring new activities can offer a change of pace and a fresh challenge for both partners.
Encouraging each other to maintain a healthy lifestyle is an important aspect of improving heart health for older couples. By supporting each other and encouraging healthy habits, older couples can improve their heart health and maintain a healthy lifestyle together.