Your heart is an important muscle — possibly THE most important muscle in your body. And it’s essential your heart has the strength it needs to do its job.

Knowing how to strengthen your heart is less about physically strengthening the muscle (although that IS part of it) and more to do with creating an environment in which your heart can thrive and be strong.

So, as you read this article, don’t just think about the heart itself. Think about outside factors that could contribute to or take away from its strength.

1) Stress

If you’ve read our blog on what we have to say about stress, you know stress isn’t a good thing for you and your heart.

Adrenaline released during stress keeps your heart rate high and your breathing speedy.

If you’re stressed more often than not, your heart is almost always in this state of beating faster than normal.

Think of it this way: when you stress more, your body and your heart are more like a tightly coiled spring, just waiting for a chance to unwind and relax—only that chance rarely comes.

You also know that when you stress, your blood sugar gets higher and you’re more likely to store that sugar as fat if that sugar isn’t metabolized into energy.

This just places more long-term strain on your heart by way of high cholesterol and blood pressure.

When you try to eliminate stress in your life, you place less of a demand on your heart and the hard work it already does.

RECOMMENDED: Taking L-Arginine Plus could be the first step to a stronger, healthier lifestyle.

2) Exercise

There’s a reason why cardiovascular workouts are called . . . cardiovascular workouts.

They literally get your heart and blood pumping in the best way possible. When you exercise regularly, you are exercising your heart’s muscle and training it to have more endurance, stamina and efficiency.

When your heart is in good shape to do harder work, like going for regular runs, biking, hiking — any form of exercise wears you out – it’s in even BETTER shape to do the day-to-day activities.

This is why professional athletes have lower heart rates. Not because there’s something wrong with them, but because their hearts simply know how to be efficient about their work.

How do you know if your heart is becoming more “fit”?

Take your heart rate. Simply put, take your heart rate immediately after strenuous activity. Let’s say after a 3-mile run, your heart rate is beating at 125 beats per minute. After taking note of this, wait and rest for 2 minutes.

After two minutes, take your heart rate again. Chances are, it’s slowed down a bit. Say it’s gone from 125 beats per minute to 105 beats per minute. Your heart rate has decreased 20 beats per minute in 2 minutes.

This is how much your heart has “recovered”.

Write down these numbers, and continue to track their change each time you exercise.

If you exercise the next week, and discover that your heart rate goes down 25 beats per minute that time, you’re recovering more quickly and returning to a more normal resting heart rate more efficiently. This means your heart is getting stronger and more efficient.

3) Get Rid Of Visceral Fat

Think the fat under your skin is annoying and unattractive?

Think about visceral fat, the kind of fat that literally goes deeper and gathers around your internal organs, shows up in your muscles, and adds toxins to your bloodstream. Not only is it unattractive, it’s downright dangerous.

Visceral fat is a contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and poor hormone function. You can work to lose visceral fat by following a lean, low-fat, low sugar, and low-sodium diet combined with regular aerobic exercise and strength training.