Volume 3 Issue 2

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Page 39 of 47

Did you know that all five of your senses could play a role in enhancing your cardiovascular wellness? A variety of activities – from listening to your favorite music to watching a hilarious video on YouTube or getting a relaxing massage with aromatherapy oils – can do your heart good. You'll also want to discover the surprising cardiovascular benefits of consuming moderate amounts of dark chocolate. Here's a look at easy actions and lifestyle changes – many of which are relaxing and enjoyable – that do your heart good. Sleep six to eight hours a night Snoozing fewer than six hours a night doubles heart attack and stroke risk and boosts the threat of congestive heart failure by 70 percent, compared to catching six to eight hours of sleep per night, according to a 2012 study of more than 3,000 people. Other recent research links skimping on slumber to higher risk for obesity and diabetes. Among the best ways to improve sleep naturally are having a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends; avoiding watching TV in the bedroom, dimming the lights, and avoiding computer use during the hour before bed; taking a warm, relaxing bath in the evening and scenting your pillow with lavender, a soothing aroma with a well-deserved reputation for improving sleep quality. Sleep doctors call these relaxing rituals and habits "good sleep hygiene." Nibble on dark chocolate Amazing, but true: Eating dark chocolate could actually help save your life. A recent study published in European Heart Journal reports that people who ate an average of 7.5 grams of chocolate a day were 27 percent less likely to have heart attacks and 48 percent less likely to have strokes than those who ate less than one gram per day, even aer risk factors were taken into account. e researchers tracked more than 19,000 people for an average of eight years. An even larger study reported that eating chocolate trimmed the risk for diabetes by 31 percent, while other studies found beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and insulin resistance. Eating one or two squares (7- 10 grams) of dark chocolate that is at least 75 percent cocoa daily is a "prescription" for better heart health. Dark chocolate contains powerful disease-fighting antioxidants called flavonoids, which are also found in tea, wine, and certain fruits and vegetables. Since the small amount of chocolate we recommend only contains 30-50 calories – and very little sugar – it's also healthy for people with insulin resistance. Keep your cells young with at least 22 minutes of daily physical activity Two ground breaking new studies reveal why exercise offers powerful protection against chronic Ways to Boost Your Heart Health Page 40 | Abby's Magazine -

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