Your heart’s best friend.

You already know your dog makes your heart happy. But your best friend is also one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. Researchers across the world are finding out that dogs can help your cardiovascular health in all sorts of wonderful ways.

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    • Dog owners walk an average of 23 minutes more each day.
    • Walking your dog can add up to 2,760 steps to your day. That’s more than one quarter of the way toward the recommended 10,000 daily steps.
    • Dogs help with anxiety and depression. Researchers believe dogs act as a source of affection that reduces feelings of loneliness or judgement.
    • Research has shown that petting a dog for five minutes can lower blood pressure.
    • Dogs can reduce your risk of heart attack by eleven percent.
    • Dogs can also lower your risk of hypertension.
    • This all adds up to something big: Dog owners are 36 percent less likely to develop heart disease.

    Five ways to keep your heart healthy without a canine.

    1. Start moving more. Exercise of any kind can improve cardiovascular health and the way you feel. Here are some easy ideas:

      • Take a walk during lunch.
      • Park your car in the back of the lot.
      • Take the stairs.
      • Try a new group fitness class; maybe get your friends and family involved for some friendly competition.
      • Make a conscious effort to get up from your desk throughout the day.
    2. Eat healthy. What you put into your body matters.

      • Make time for breakfast.
      • Make an extra few servings of your healthy dinner so you can take your lunch to work.
      • Try to incorporate more fruits and veggies in your diet.
      • Drink more water.
    3. Reduce stress. Your body reacts to the way you think just as much as it does to what you eat. Take some time to unwind and give your ticker a break.

      • Make time for yourself. Unwind after work.
      • Laugh more. Learn how a laugh a day could keep a heart attack away.
      • Enjoy time with your family and friends.
      • Get enough sleep.
      • Set goals and reflect on your progress.
    4. Do things that make you happy and celebrate yourself. Be your own advocate.

      • Making changes takes time and effort; think progress, not perfection.
      • Enjoy little wins throughout the day. It all counts!
      • Be present with family and friends.
      • Laugh more.
    5. Stop bad habits. What you don’t do matters just as much as what you do.

      • Quit smoking.
      • Consume alcohol in moderation.
      • Moderate your salt and sugar intake.