How amazing is your heart? For starters, it beats about 100,000 times a day — pumping some 2,000 gallons of blood through blood vessels that would stretch for tens of thousands of miles if they were laid end-to-end.
Here are 5 more impressive facts about your hardworking ticker — along with 5 ways to help keep it going strong.
A heartbeat is the sound of your heart valves opening and closing.
Your heart has 4 valves to let blood in and out of its chambers — in an organized manner. Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat …
FAVOR No. 1: Sound off about your risk.
Even if you feel fine, talk with your doctor about your personal risk of heart disease. It’s the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. — and it can often start silently. Together, you can keep an eye on your blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI) and blood sugar.
How big is your heart? Make a fist to see.
A normal adult heart is a little larger than a fist. And like much of your hand, it’s made of muscle.
FAVOR No. 2: Get pumped about exercise.
Your heart needs it to stay healthy. Aerobic activities — like brisk walking or cycling — strengthen and protect the heart. Most people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week.* Add muscle-strengthening exercises 2 or more days a week for a fitness routine with even more perks.
Short on time? Try breaking your workout into 10-minute sessions to fit it in.
Active people’s hearts tend to beat slower than those of people who are less active.
If your heart muscle is in good condition, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain a steady beat. Your heart rate can fluctuate though. It may increase if you’re anxious or stressed, for instance.
FAVOR No. 3: Enjoy a good laugh!
Laughter can be good medicine — helping ease stress and relaxing blood vessels. So share a chuckle with a friend. Stream that funny video or favorite comedy. Another great go-to stress buster: deep breathing. It may calm and soothe you, including your heart.
Your heart outworks your legs.
It’s true: The heart muscle works twice as hard at rest as leg muscles do while running. Go, heart, go!
FAVOR No. 4: Fuel up with healthy foods.
A heart-healthy diet isn’t overly complicated. For starters, build your meals around a variety of fruits, veggies and whole grains. Choose lean proteins, low-fat dairy foods and healthy oils, such as olive and canola. For your heart’s sake, go easy on sodium, sweets, saturated fat and trans fat.
Electricity drives your heartbeat.
Electrical impulses keep the heart’s 4 chambers pumping in sync. A sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical malfunction in the heart. That’s different than a heart attack, which is when blood flow to the heart is blocked.
FAVOR No. 5: Plug in to your history.
If heart or other health problems run in your family, it may raise your risk too. Look into it — and share what you learn with your doctor. If you do have a family history of heart disease, it’s even more important that you lead a healthy lifestyle.