24 Feb Celebrate American Heart Month By Showing Love for Your Ticker
Typically when you think about hearts during the month of February, tiny candy conversation hearts and Valentine’s come to mind. February is also American Heart Month and we’re not talking about the kind that says “Be Mine” or “UR Cute.” Heart disease is a leading cause of death, but it can be prevented by taking care of your ticker. This month, we bring awareness to that big muscle pumping blood through your veins, but there are plenty of ways to reduce your risk of heart disease throughout the year.
Tips for Boosting Heart Health During American Heart Month and Yearround
- Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet — Help protect your heart, improve, blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet includes fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, whole grains, healthy fats like olive oil and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Limit your intake of salt, sugar, processed carbohydrates, alcohol and saturated fats (like those found in red meat and full-fat dairy products).
- Get Good Sleep — People who don’t tend to get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, depression and diabetes. Make sleep a priority in your life by setting a sleep schedule and sticking to is by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. If you feel like you’ve been getting enough sleep, but you’re still tired inquire with your doctor for a sleep apnea evaluation. Sleep apnea is a condition that increases your risk of heart disease.
- Don’t Smoke or Use Tobacco Products — Chemicals in tobacco can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels. Smoking cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, which decreases blood pressure and heart rate. Your body has to work harder to supply enough oxygen to your body and brain. The risk of heart disease starts to drop in as little as a day after quitting! Start reaping the rewards of quitting, no matter how much or how long you have smoked or used smokeless tobacco products.
- Exercise or Be Active for 30-60 Minutes a Day — Regular physical exercise and activity helps lower the risk of heart disease. It helps control your weight, reduces your chances of developing other conditions that strain your heart. You don’t have to sign up for that marathon, even walking briskly for 150 minutes a week will help you prevent heart disease. Even short bouts of activity offer health benefits — work in your garden, clean your house, take the stairs, walk the dog — anything helps!
- Manage Stress in a Healthy Way — Stress raises your blood pressure and extreme stress can be a trigger for a heart attack. Common ways of coping with stress include heavy drinking, smoking and overeating. Manage stress in a healthy way such as listening to music, exercising, meditating or focusing on something peaceful.
- Get Regular Screenings — WIthout testing for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which both damage your heart and blood vessels, you won’t know if you have these conditions. Regular health screenings can help you find out if you need to take action. Diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease. If you have a family history, your doctor may recommend early screening.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight — Weight contributes to many of the risk factors associated with heart disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and high triglyceride levels are linked to both obesity and heart disease. Controlling your weight helps lower these risks.
Show Love for Your Ticker
Remember that excess weight causes your heart to work harder and increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Even if you aren’t overweight, extreme stress, poor sleep habits and a lack of exercise may put you at risk. Make sure you are around for many more years of candy hearts by taking preventative action against heart disease. Show love for your ticker and increase your quality of life.
What are your favorite ways to get active and eat healthily? Share your tips in the comments!