The One Practice This Cardiologist Includes In His Daily Heart-Health Routine
Sticking to a routine for anything can be a challenge, but when it comes to heart health, cardiologist Alejandro Junger, M.D., says there's one practice he tries to prioritize every day.
"Sometimes I fail," Junger says, but "I try to meditate every day, no matter what." (Yep, even the most seasoned among us are flexible with their wellness routines.)
How meditation supports heart health.
Meditation is often associated with mental health, and less so with heart health, but according to Junger, "[it] is such a complete practice—especially for heart health."
Several studies have looked at the effects of meditation on blood pressure, finding evidence that mindfulness-based stress reduction may lead to significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Along with supporting healthy blood pressure levels, Junger says, "it calms down the spikes of cortisol and hormones that respond to stress." And since psychological stress has been linked to cardiovascular disease, practicing meditation frequently may lower the risk of developing heart disease.
Though the evidence isn't strong enough to make meditation a treatment on its own, the American Heart Association has suggested using it alongside other heart-healthy practices to lower cardiovascular risk. "There is no combination of therapies that achieve all these results with zero bad side effects, and no monetary cost," Junger says. So, if you haven't made it part of your daily routine, you might as well start now.
How to begin a meditation practice.
Meditation is often thought of as sitting silently with your thoughts, but that's just one version of it. There are actually several ways to practice meditation, and one of the best ways to find out which one works for you is by reading about the 12 major meditation styles. Once you've read through all your options, you can download an app or sign up for a meditation class so a trained instructor can walk you through guided meditations.
If you feel comfortable pursuing meditation without the assistance of a teacher but struggle to sit still for long periods of time, movement meditations may be better suited to you. Whichever style you choose to adopt, these five tips can make it easier to get in the groove of meditation without overthinking it.
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Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.