14. No Sleep


In today’s fast-paced world, we’re always trying to squeeze a lot from a little. We’ve all heard the advice to get 8 hours of sleep nightly (7 is as good or better in some cases), but realistically, most Americans get less than that for a number of reasons. Missing out on that shuteye can be disastrous for heart health. For starters, it is when you sleep that your hardest-working organs like the heart and lungs get a chance to rest by working at a slower rate. Furthermore, a lack of sleep can lead to irritability and stress in the waking hours.

13. Stress


You’ve probably heard terms like “blowing a gasket” before. There’s actually a reason for them. Stress kills. Literally. It will raise your blood pressure and indirectly exacerbate other conditions. For example, the stress hormone cortisol can lead your body to hold on to fat, which promotes obesity. This is especially dangerous for those who binge eat when they are stressed, or those who practice other unhealthy habits. If you find yourself stressed all the time, see if you can find ways to simplify your life. You may also want to get into exercising; not only can it de-stress you, but it can have other beneficial effects.

12. A Lack of Exercise


As mentioned earlier, exercise can enhance your health in a number of ways. Believe it or not, exercising regularly gives you more energy. It also enhances cognitive function, burns fat, improves lung capacity, and reduces blood pressure. As you can imagine, a lack of exercise does the opposite. A sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity, along with hardening of the arteries. It may also lead to shortness of breath and a general lack of energy, the perfect storm for heart trouble. Commit to getting at least a little exercise every day; even walking is enough to get started.

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Exercising


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