Throughout February, it’s common to see nothing but red and heart-shaped items everywhere you go. February is typically a month associated with love and romance, but it’s also American Heart Month, a time for us to remember what our real hearts do for us every day.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.; in fact, according to the American Heart Association, about one of every three deaths that occur in America is due to cardiovascular disease. While everyone is at some risk for heart disease, you’re at a greater risk if you:
- have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
- are overweight or obese
- don’t adhere to a healthy diet
- don’t get enough exercise
Don’t let this dismay you. There are a few steps you can take today to help strengthen your heart and decrease your risk for heart disease. Follow these 7 tips to take good care of your heart right now!
Eat Well – One of the best things you can do for your heart and your entire body is eating a well-balanced diet. Your diet should consist of nutrient-rich foods, including plenty of veggies, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes. While you’re at it, try eating less fast food, sweets, processed food, and foods high in fat or sugar.
Manage Your Stress – If you take care of your stress level, you are more likely to take care of your eating habits, which can help protect your heart. Take the time to de-stress every day. Tap into your creativity, read something enjoyable, spend time with friends, listen to your favorite music, meditate, pray, practice yoga, garden, dance – any of these activities can really help negate stress and the effects it can have on your body!
Get Moving – Speaking of managing your stress, exercising is a fantastic way to help you decompress and relieve tension! Countless studies have shown that 3-4 weekly sessions of at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense workouts help lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and keep your weight at a healthy number. Not exercising? Start slow! Even 10 minutes at a time is better than nothing.
Maintain a Healthy Weight – Obesity is a real issue in America for both children and adults. In order to maintain a healthy weight and BMI (Body Mass Index), eat foods with high nutritional value and continue being physically active. In turn, this will help lower your risk for not only heart disease but also type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Watch Your Cholesterol – High cholesterol is harmful to your heart and arteries. To reduce your cholesterol and keep it at a healthy level, lower the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol you consume. Exercise is also crucial to maintain good cholesterol. If you’re struggling to keep your numbers down, your doctor may be able to help you with medication.
Drink Only in Moderation – Too much alcohol can increase your chances of stroke, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and more. If you do drink, limit yourself to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
Stop Smoking – If you don’t smoke, keep up the great work! However, if you haven’t been able to kick the habit yet, take steps today to quit. Your body will thank you, especially your heart and lungs.
It’s never too early to start taking better care of your heart. Follow these tips to help you lower your risk of heart disease and give yourself a healthier future!