We know what you're thinking: You're way too young to start worrying about heart health. But it's what you do now that will keep your ticker ticking later on. Check out these three super-easy strategies:
Watch a Movie: Bump up The Hangover on your Netflix queue and you may suddenly feel the tension drain away. Turns out that simply looking forward to watching a funny movie can trigger a 70 percent drop in stress-hormone levels, finds recent research conducted at Loma Linda University.
Think About Exercising: Just imagining yourself pumping iron is better than nothing, according to a Cleveland Clinic Foundation study. For 15 minutes a day, five days a week, volunteers imagined exercising certain muscles as vigorously as they could. After 12 weeks, the muscles had strengthened by as much as 15 percent. How? Visualization may send signals from the brain to the neurons controlling movement; the stronger the signal, the stronger the muscles. The heart benefit: When your muscles are mighty, your heart rate and blood pressure are less likely to rise when demands on your ticker increase.
Eat Some Fish: There's nothing fishy about the mounting evidence that omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart disease. Researchers say omega-3's may strengthen the cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure, and make the heart's electrical activity more efficient. The body doesn't produce its own fatty acids, so doctors recommend shooting for 500 milligrams a day. Great sources include salmon, trout, and oysters. Not a fish fan? Ask your doc about supplements.