‘I’m a Cardiologist—This Is the One Thing I Always Do as Soon as I Wake Up in the Morning'

Woman waking up to start her day and focus on her heart health

Humans crave routine. There’s a good chance your mornings tend to be similar every day. You likely set your alarm clock for the same time, enjoy the same beverage of your choice (like coffee, tea or a glass of orange juice) and look forward to the same breakfast.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with knowing what you like and sticking to it, but since it’s the habits we do regularly that impact health the most, it’s worth it to make the habits you do every day work in your favor. If you want to start your morning off in a way that supports your heart, consider how a cardiologist—who has a front-row seat to how habits impact heart health and whose job it is to stay on top of the latest scientific research—structures his morning. You might be surprised at the one super simple habit he does every day that has a big impact on heart health.

Related: 25 Foods That Are Good for Your Heart, From Fruits and Veggies to Heart-Healthy Nuts and Seeds

The Heart-Healthy Habit a Cardiologist Does First Thing Every Morning

Vascular cardiologist Dr. Rohit Vuppuluri, DO, says that every morning without fail he starts the day with one simple habit that supports heart health: drinking two large glasses of water. “This helps start the day with great hydration and helps wake up my mind and body for the day ahead,” he explains.

The connection between hydration and heart health is not often talked about, but Dr. Vuppuluri says it’s greatly important. “Water is essential for electrolyte management which helps maintain stable cardiac function and cardiac rhythm,” he explains. Scientific research shows a connection between low body water and increased risk for poor heart health. Part of the reason for this is that not being well-hydrated can cause inflammation in the body, which negatively impacts the heart.

“Adequate hydration is important for blood pressure control,” he adds, explaining another reason why proper hydration is important for heart health. Not being properly hydrated causes blood vessels to constrict. This raises blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of a heart attack and stroke.

With this in mind, starting the day with proper hydration by drinking two full glasses of water is an easy heart-healthy habit to integrate into your morning.

Related: The #1 Benefit of Drinking Water That No One's Talking About

3 Other Heart-Healthy Habits To Start Your Day With

1. Drink a cup of coffee

Besides water, having a cup of coffee in the morning can support your cardiovascular health. “Coffee has antioxidants that make it good for heart health,” Dr. Vuppuluri says. According to scientific research, moderate coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality (AKA dying from heart heart-related causes). However, as with other habits, moderation is key. Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day has been found to negatively impact the heart.

Additionally, Dr. Vuppuluri says that the effects of coffee vary from person to person. If you are someone who is highly sensitive to caffeine, it may be best to stick with decaf coffee, which has antioxidants but no caffeine.

Related: A New Study Found That Drinking Coffee Is Linked to Longevity—Here's What to Keep In Mind Before You Pour Your Next Cup

2. Eat a balanced breakfast

Want to ensure your morning meal supports your heart? Dr. Vuppuluri recommends eating a breakfast with whole grains, lean protein and water or fresh fruit juice to get a range of nutrients that support cardiovascular health. For example, the fiber in oatmeal (a whole grain) and fruit helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Lean protein sources like nuts or nut butter, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs are better for heart health than sausage and bacon, which are both high in saturated fat.

3. Take a walk

Even if you don’t have time to do a full workout in the morning (the American Heart Association recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise each week), taking a walk around the block is a great heart-healthy habit to start the day with. Walking decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease—period.

When revamping your morning routine with heart health in mind, think about what you have to do anyway (like eat and drink) and do these activities in a way that supports your cardiovascular health. That’s exactly how you’ll make it a habit that supports your body!

Next up, learn how to improve your heart health quickly and safely, according to doctors.