Volunteering Is Good For The Heart And 7 Other Heart-Healthy Habits

Yes, there are foods to eat (and to avoid) for a healthier heart. There are general healthy lifestyle practices, like regular exercise and not smoking, that keep your ticker ticking, too.

But a healthier heart needn't always be so medical. A recent study found that volunteering -- a practice long known for its feel-good benefits -- has a physical payoff, too, at least for the heart.

Canadian researchers followed 106 volunteering high school students for 10 weeks and discovered cholesterol, BMI and inflammation dropped after their opportunity for service compared to a group of their peers who didn't get the chance to give back, Everyday Health reported.

And the heart benefits are likely tied to volunteering's mental and emotional benefits, according to the study's author. "The volunteers who reported the greatest increases in empathy, altruistic behaviour and mental health were the ones who also saw the greatest improvements in their cardiovascular health," Hannah Schreier, Ph.D., said in a statement.

If you don't yet have a cause you're passionate about, don't worry. Volunteering isn't the only healthy habit that can get your heart on the fast track to optimal health. These other habits, preferences and personality traits can do your heart good, too.

Heart-Healthy Habits