October 14, 2015

Collegiate Perspective: 10 Simple Ways a College Woman Can Improve Her Heart Health

Awareness surrounding heart health is growing, and with that awareness comes a responsibility to take better care of ourselves on a daily basis. Doctors tell us to run every day and replace all junk food in the house with kale and granola. Coming from a rather broke and time-crunched college student, running every day and buying expensive, healthy foods are just out of the question. Although I have only been a sister of Alpha Phi for a short amount of time, women’s heart health has become a huge part of my everyday life. I am here today to tell you that having a healthy heart all starts with you, and it is easier, cheaper and simpler than you think.

Chocoholics, rejoice!
One tip to a healthier heart is to eat dark chocolate. Studies have shown that the tasty treat improves blood flow and prevents the formation of blood clots. Keep your heart happy with a daily dose of dark chocolate

Dance it out
The words “cardio day at the gym” make me cringe. Although running makes my heart happy, the rest of my body doesn’t appreciate it. Luckily, running isn’t the only form of exercise that makes your heart smile. Dancing is good for the soul and the heart. With its high calorie burn and ability to raise your heart rate, dancing is a fun way to get that much needed cardio in. So blast the latest Justin Bieber and get moving!

Laughing is the best medicine
I currently live in the Alpha Phi house with 24 other roommates and I can proudly say I have never laughed more in my life. Research found that laughing reduces the stress on your heart tissues and vessels, which promotes a very healthy heart.

Don’t be salty
College is notorious for unhealthy foods: dining halls, pizza delivery and sandwich places. Not only is this awful for a college budget, but it is also awful for your heart. Salt is one of your heart’s biggest enemies. Salt is a huge contributor to heart disease, which affects 1 in 4 women[KM1] . Reducing your salt intake means reducing that statistic.

Going nuts
Between classes and chapter meetings, the life of a college woman is a busy one. When I’m on the go, I tend to grab the easiest and quickest thing to eat – but it’s not always the healthiest. I challenge myself, and all of you, to grab nuts instead of a handful of chips when you’re in need of a quick fix. Nuts are high in unsaturated fats, which help reduce cholesterol. Make your heart go nuts for nuts!

Adopt a furry friend
Okay, maybe not quite yet, but pets are proven to release the happy chemicals in our brains, which is great for the overall health of our bodies. Taking a trip to the local shelter or over to your crazy cat-lady friend’s house is a great way to get those health benefits without all the responsibility. Being around animals regularly can potentially lower the rate of getting heart disease and even improve your lung function!

Alright ladies, we all know that our time in Alpha Phi has made us professional crafters. We could all graduate now with a degree in blanket making or canvas painting. Not only do our fingers get stronger, but our heart does as well. That’s right! Crafting is good for you. Crafting, knitting and doing puzzles are shown to relieve stress, which as we know, helps the heart relax. Let’s get crafting!

Meditation Nation
Yoga is not only good for your figure, but it is also one of your heart’s best friends. Yoga has been proven to allow your heart to relax and to positively affect your heart rate. Grab your mat and while you stretch out the stress of that chemistry exam, you can also make your heart smile. It’s a win-win!

Have your breakfast and eat it, too
I know firsthand how hard it is to get up in time to eat a nutritious breakfast after a long night of writing an essay or studying for a quiz. Usually, all we want after a late night and early morning is a huge cup of coffee. This is one giant NO NO. Caffeine without food can cause a lot of stress on the heart. Your heart doesn’t quite know what to do with all of that energy, so it tends to beat really fast and your temperature can fluctuate causing a very uncomfortable morning. As hard as it is to set your alarm 15 minutes earlier for breakfast, it is worth it. Get up and make a quick bowl of oatmeal or some yogurt and fruit to start your day off with a healthy heart and a happy tummy!

Enjoy your life
Heart health doesn’t have to feel like a chore. It’s the little changes you make every day that will make the biggest difference. Above all, enjoy time with your sisters and enjoy getting healthy. A happy heart means a happy life!

Rylee Portman is a collegiate member at Northern Colorado (Delta Gamma). Learn more about Rylee by clicking here.


"28 Healthy Heart Tips." Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. .

"Caffeine and Heart Disease." Caffeine and Heart Disease. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. .

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