We hear it all the time, “wine is great for the heart” and “make sure you exercise for cardiovascular health.” But these continuously repeated pieces of “advice” aren’t always true for everyone. And they aren’t exactly prescriptive—how much wine and exercise do we need? The answer is, we have to find the right personal balance for our own heart-healthy lifestyle.

In my practice, I have found four key areas that people often struggle with:  Sleep, Stress, Exercise and Diet

I’ve also found that giving people small and easy things to add to their daily routines actually helps them deal with these struggles in achievable ways. They are surprised to see results with such simple changes!

Try adding some of these small additions to your everyday routine and see how your life (and heart) change for the better.


You need restorative rest every night, so your body can repair itself, your mind can take a break and your body can work to regenerate and create things you need. (Like producing cytokines to support your immunity!) Proper sleep allows your heart rate to slow, blood pressure to drop, and breathing to stabilize—reducing stress on the heart and allowing it to recover from the day’s activities.

Try these small tips:

  1. Lights Down Low: Before bedtime, use candlelight or low blue lights only.
  2. Bedtime Ritual: Create a routine that involves separating from screens (TV, phone, computer, etc.) two hours before bed. You can journal, read or take a bath.
  3. Take Melatonin: Melatonin, often referred to as the sleep hormone, is a central part of the body’s sleep-wake cycle, increasing with evening darkness, promoting healthy sleep and helping to orient our circadian rhythm. It’s also being studied to help prevent the effects of COVID-19! (Cleveland Clinic study)


Believe it or not, we experience stress for a very good biological reason. Survival! If we are faced with a life-threatening danger (like a saber-toothed tiger chasing us), our body triggers our adrenals and then sends resources to the areas that we need to escape—like elevating our heartbeat and respiration to give the body energy and oxygen it needs to fight the tiger or run away.

In modern days, we don’t see too many tigers out and about. But we do experience other stressors constantly throughout the day and our body still goes into that alerted response. You can see how perpetual demand on the heart can create problems. When we can recognize that we’re stressed, we can find ways to get back into a homeostatic state, when our body is in equilibrium, and we can access our self-repair mechanisms.

Try these small tips:

  1. Identify Stress: Inner Game of Stress by W. Timothy Gallwey teaches fantastic techniques to recognize your stress and turn it around.
  2. Calm Your Mind: Meditation has become quite buzz worthy these days, but that’s because it works! I like the Insight Timer app.
  3. Breathe It Away: The Wim Hof Method of breathing truly works—it’s easy, powerful and free!

Exercise & Movement

We absolutely need regular movement and exercise, not only for heart health, but for health in general. I usually see one of two extremes: 1) people who live a sedentary life and rarely get their blood moving in any significant way or 2) people who over-exercise and are taxing their system on a regular basis. I like to encourage people to find the balance they need for their personal health goals. Regardless, I do tell them, “if you’re not sweating, huffing and puffing, it’s not a great heart workout.” Whatever you’re doing—briskly walking, lifting weights, even dancing around the living room—you’ve got to be creating effort.

Try these small tips:

  1. How Much Is Too Much: Ask yourself! How do you feel right after exercising? After 2 hours? If the answer is tired or drained instead of good and energized, then you may have not done enough or done too much. Adjust until you feel good.
  2. The 7-Minute Workout: These 12 exercises get you going and only take a small amount of time to do.
  3. Take a Stand: If you find yourself sitting all day, get a standing desk. Like I always say, “sitting is the new smoking!”


I often like to recommend the Pegan Diet, coined by my friend Dr. Mark Hyman. This combination of paleo + vegan reduces the risk of chronic disease, curbs inflammation, and promotes general health (see tips below). Food is super important when we talk about the heart, but we also need to pay attention to what we drink, like alcohol and caffeine. People metabolize these substances differently, and they both can stress the heart in excess. For example, one glass of wine could make one person intoxicated, while another person wouldn’t feel a thing. See below for how to tell what how you personally metabolize alcohol and caffeine.

Try these small tips:

  1. Look at Caffeine Intake: How do you feel on caffeine? Jittery or anxious? Do you get heartburn or palpitations? Then it’s too much. Experiment with what amount of caffeine makes you feel good (hint: it may be none!).
  2. Ask Yourself About Alcohol: How do you feel on alcohol—do you sleep okay after drinking, how do you feel the next day? Again, just experiment with the amount of alcohol and figure out the amount that doesn’t compromise your sleep, energy or wellbeing.
  3. Clean Your Diet: The Pegan Diet by Dr. Mark Hyman gives easy to follow practical tips and advice on how to eat for overall (and heart) health.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Please feel free to comment below or reach out and let us know if you’ve tried these and what changes you’re seeing. We love to hear about what’s working, so we can help more people take back their lives!