February is American Heart Month.
Yes, it’s the month of Valentine’s Day and love, but it’s also a time for heart health awareness.
Did you know?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. One in three of us is currently living with some kind of heart disease. The fact is, most heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle changes like eating better, getting more exercise and reducing stress. “Yeah,” you’re probably thinking, “All that is easier said than done, right?”
We’ve put together a list of heart-healthy lifestyle habits that you really can easily follow. Give them a try.
Feed your heart clean fuel.
Drive on past your favorite fast food restaurant and get some slow food. Take the time to plan and prepare heart-healthy meals.
Here are some guidelines for better-eating ingredients:
More whole grains
Lots of fruits and veggies
Less saturated fats, like you’d find in red meats and full-fat dairy
Get moving for your heart!
You should get at least 30 minutes of intentional activity five times per week. What do we mean by intentional activity? Try taking a hike, or going for a swim. Lift weights, do a stretching or yoga routine. Take a dance class! Walk for exercise, earn points and turn them in for gift cards.
In addition to intentional movement, trick yourself into exercising throughout your day. Park further away from the store entrance. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to the end of the driveway to pick up your mail, instead of just stopping in the car on your way home. If you (like most of us) spend most of your day in front of a computer, set a timer to get up and stretch, and move around a little every hour.
Heart health, by the numbers.
See your physician regularly to keep an eye on your heart health. Some numbers your doctor will help you keep track of are:
Stress is a killer.
It’s true! Stress increases your blood pressure and causes inflammation in your body. The good news is that eating better and adding more exercise weekly will naturally reduce your stress. You can help lower stress even further.
Take a few moments, when you feel your stress building, to breathe deeply. Meditate. Turn off your television (and put down your phone!) 30 minutes before bedtime, and make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep nightly.
Kick your bad habits, for your heart’s sake.
We know, we just told you to relieve stress, and now we’re saying you should throw away the cigarettes, cut back on alcohol and walk away from the doughnuts. But if you do make better lifestyle choices, your heart will thank you.
Your heart is depending on you! Get moving, eat well, get plenty of sleep and take care of yourself.