Your heart is a delicate thing, but caring for it after a heart attack doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Those you hold closest to your heart can also help keep it healthy.

Getting friends and family involved in your heart health can not only help you stay on track to living longer, but it can also provide great opportunities to create lasting memories.

It’s important to not be fearful of asking for help. Your loved ones will most likely be willing to help in anyway possible but may be waiting for you to reach out. They’ll be ready to do what they can because they care about you and want you around for a long time.

Getting Everyone Involved

Being heart-healthy doesn’t have to be boring. There are many ways to improve your health with those around you. One of the easiest ways to help your heart is to laugh.  Not only does it help combat stress, which wears on your heart, but it’s great exercise for your ticker too.  So when you can, get everyone together, tell some jokes, and laugh away.

Here are some other ways to include family (and friends) in your quest for a healthier heart. Before you participate in any exercise or activity, it’s imperative that you consult your doctor to make sure it is safe.

Your Spouse or Partner

  • Grocery shop together. A heart healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated, but it will take some effort to find the fresh foods you need. When it’s time to shop, go to the store with your spouse. It’s a great way to get creative with healthy food and yet one more thing you can do as a team.
  • Reorganize the kitchen. If family members in the house (e.g. - teenagers) aren’t ready to give up their junk food, at least find a good spot to hide the unhealthy stuff. Whether up high or down low, keep the foods you need to avoid out of easy reach.
  • Cook together. The best way to watch what you’re eating is to make it yourself. Preparing meals with your spouse can provide excellent time together, as well as a great way to explore healthy food.
  • Dance. Whether you go out or stay in, dancing is a great way to trick yourself into getting some exercise. It’s also a great way to fan the flames of passion in your relationship.
  • Get intimate. Sex is a great form of exercise, even if it doesn’t feel like exercise. It can also help lower stress, another enemy of the heart.

Your Kids

  • Go outdoors. Instead of spending the weekends on the couch watching the game, get outside with the kids and get moving. Hiking, kayaking, or any other outdoor activity can decrease stress and improve your heart’s strength.
  • Walk and talk. Make a new tradition by walking with one of your kids after dinner. Not only will it be a good chance for a little exercise, but it’s also a good time for some one-on-one bonding.
  • Take an interest. If your kids are into sports, practice in the backyard with them. Shoot some hoops, play catch, or any other sort of game. It’s also great bonding time.
  • Share your interests. If there was something you really enjoyed as a child, teach it to your kids. Old-school is cool these days, and hobbies or activities from yesteryear (hula-hooping, for example) can be fun for the whole family. The more active the better.
  • Let them parent. Kids are great resources to help keep you responsible. Ask your kids to keep an eye on you for any bad habits that might creep back into your life, whether that’s putting too much salt on your food or lighting up an after-dinner cigar.

Your Friends or Coworkers

  • Find a healthier routine. If your usual get-together consists of cocktails, try finding something more active. From golf to paintball, there are lots of fun group activities to keep you and your friends interested.
  • Co-op lunches. Think of it like a carpool with food. Take turns bringing healthy meals into work and sharing them with others. This is a great way to share healthy-eating ideas, and if you have five people involved, each person only has to worry about lunch once a week.
  • Get an exercise buddy. Having someone to hit the gym with after work is a great way to keep you from skipping out.
  • Walk at lunch. Most people who work in offices relish any opportunity to go outside on a nice day. Getting even one person to get out of the office to walk during free time shouldn’t be too difficult.

Once again, whatever new choices you’re looking to initiate, make sure to get your doctor’s input before doing anything that might do more harm than good.