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Heartfelt Changes

Seven smart moves for a happier heart this year

Woman doing yoga

Practice relaxing rituals

As life gets busier, stress rises, and heart disease can follow. You can't change the world, but you can change your response to it. This year, start some new daily rituals like meditation, yoga, visualization, quiet time, bedtime relaxation or even just taking extra time to walk the dog. You'll reduce your stress levels and possibly your risk of heart disease. Give it a try!

Enjoy life

We all have responsibilities, but we owe it to our hearts to let loose and have some fun. Studies show that people whose lives are filled with laughter are much less likely to have heart disease. Go ahead and laugh! You know you want to.

Believe

Faith, whether in a higher being, the power of nature, or even yourself, is both grounding and healthy. A big part of that is optimism. People who use words such as joy and hope to describe their attitudes toward life outlive their more pessimistic counterparts by a decade!

Indulge moderately

Those who savor a glass of wine with dinner now and again may lower their heart-disease risk by up to 40 percent, typically enjoying a higher quality of life than both those who abstain completely and those who don't know when to say when.

Create a safe haven

They say home is where the heart is. Make yours a refuge by setting up soothing surroundings with flowers, plants, good music, a sleep-inducing bedroom and some quiet space to escape to in order to collect your thoughts. Spending most of your time relaxed, not stressed, can slice your heart-disease risk in half.

Share yourself

Hearts are happiest when they're in the company of others. This year, make time for family and friends and get involved with the community through volunteer work, religious services or charitable contributions. Your heart will thank you.

Yoga

Developed 5,000 years ago in India, yoga is more serene than sweat, more meditative than muscle. Cited for increasing flexibility, improving balance and muscle tone and helping people relax, yoga is an easy exercise to start or take part in at any age.

Several studies have proven that you can actually reverse heart disease with a lifestyle change that includes yoga and a low-fat vegetarian diet. In some cases, after following this lifestyle, people had clearer, more supple arteries, indicating reversal of the disease. While yoga alone can't cure heart disease, it can be an important part of a healthy-heart lifestyle. Try it out!

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