Jumpstart Your Heart Action Plan

The heart is perhaps the body’s most beautiful muscle. Roughly the size of a clenched fist, this amazing machine beats approximately 100,000 times in a day and about 35 million times in a year. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. This powerful pump circulates oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to every cell in the human body. Have a heart and take good care of your ticker. Follow these heart-healthy steps to live better and longer.

Stretch for Your Heart

You’ve heard that stretching can help you maintain flexibility and avoid injury. Studies show that stretching may also help relax your arteries and improve their elasticity. This allows blood to flow more easily through the body, which helps keep blood pressure at healthy levels. The mere act of stretching also reduces stress, which lowers blood pressure.\r\n

\r\nIt’s best to stretch after a workout, once your muscles have warmed up. Remember those classic stretches you learned in gym class? Give a few of these oldies but goodies a try: While standing, practice gentle neck rolls, arm reaches and arm circles. Bend down and try and touch your toes. Try this: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms flat on the floor at your sides. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath and relax. Grasp the back of one knee (not the top of the knee) with both hands and pull as close to your chest as possible. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

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