It's never too early to start prioritizing your ticker.

Preventing many health traumas begins with having a strong heart—luckily, there are many ways to boost and support yours, and that's true whether you're 35 or 75. Here are four easy-to-follow tips from Cheryl Anderson, professor and interim chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, and chair of the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association. Ahead, how to do right by your heart starting now, including eating and exercising tips.

woman riding bicycle near beach
Credit: Getty / iprogressman

Eat Right

This should come as no surprise, but eating a nutrient-rich diet is key to maintaining good heart health. Anderson says, "Eat fresh foods that have lots of nutrients, and eat less sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, salt, and saturated fat." As a friendly reminder, the American Heart Association recommends most women limit their daily sugar intake to about six teaspoons. For men, the recommendation is nine teaspoons or less.

Increase Your Antioxidant Intake

"Include more color on your plate from fruits and vegetables," advises Anderson. Colorful foods are high in antioxidants and vitamins, which naturally bolster your ticker. "Sneak in more color by blending leafy greens into smoothies," she suggests. "Replace chips with carrots or fruit, and bulk up soups and stews with extra veggies like bell peppers, squash, or zucchini."

Be Active

The American Heart Association recommends setting a goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. "Remind yourself to stay active throughout the day by setting a reminder on your phone to stand up and move every hour or so. Find opportunities to be active throughout the day—like walking around while you're on the phone or taking the stairs instead of the elevator."

Practice Stress Management

While there's still more research needed to define how stress contributes to heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends managing stress for optimum heart health. "Find opportunities throughout the day to take a few deep breaths, meditate, or listen to music," Anderson notes. Getting outside and relaxing in nature is also a great way to manage stress.


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