Did you know February is American ❤️ Month? This makes it the perfect time to focus on our cardiovascular health. A healthy heart is essential to longevity and overall well-being.
We challenge YOU to choose one healthy habit this month to help your heart tick stronger and longer. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are some to choose from!
Get in the habit of regular physical activity. Physical activity dramatically reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke, and provides an array of other health benefits.
To get started, aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. This could include walking, cycling, dancing, squash, or anything else that gets your heart rate up.
To make it more manageable, break your weekly total into smaller increments such as 10-15 minutes per day or 30 minutes three times a week. Additionally, adding 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities into your routine can help build muscle and increase bone strength.
Strengthen your heart by eating a balanced diet, incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into your diet. Don’t shy away from eating wild caught, fatty fish and choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Additionally, reduce your salt intake and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
When you’re grocery shopping, choose heart-healthy options such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and other unsaturated fats. It’s also important to include plant-based sources of protein like beans, lentils, quinoa, and tofu.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Maintaining a healthy weight is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy heart! It can help reduce your risk of many serious diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
A healthy weight can improve your quality of life, reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, and increase your energy levels. Additionally, a healthy weight can lead to better sleep, improved mental health, and increased self-confidence.
High levels of stress can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Thankfully, there are many ways to help reduce stress. Pay attention to your breath and relax your muscles. Try meditating, going for a walk, or doing yoga to help calm down. Exercise can be a great outlet for reducing stress too. Just make sure that you’re not overworking yourself and taking breaks when needed.
Additionally, it’s important to identify the sources of your stress. Once you understand what is causing the stress, you can find more targeted solutions. It’s also a good idea to have conversations with loved ones or a mental health professional. Talking through your emotions can be therapeutic and can provide a unique perspective on your stressors.
GET QUALITY SLEEP
When it comes to maintaining a healthy heart, getting quality sleep is just as important as the other aspects of your routine. Not only does quality sleep help your body and mind function properly, but it also helps keep your heart healthy.
The amount of sleep you need may vary, but the average adult needs seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. Practice good sleeping habits like setting a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, turning off electronics at least an hour before bed, and keeping your bedroom dark and quiet. Regular exercise also helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
MAKE IT MANAGEABLE
It is important to make your goals manageable. Don’t expect to change all of your habits overnight; instead, focus on small changes and steady progress. Every step you take towards a healthier lifestyle is one step closer to improved cardiovascular health. Little changes can have a big impact, like setting a bedtime, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and meditating when you’re stressed.
In conclusion, use this month to prioritize your cardiovascular health. Achieving a healthy weight, eating right, getting in moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week, managing stress levels, and getting quality sleep are all important aspects of caring for your heart. Making simple, manageable changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference. So get out there, take care of your heart, and have a happy and healthy American Heart Month!