Welcome to February, Heart Health Month! Practicing healthy heart habits is important year round, but February brings about a great opportunity to reexamine our lifestyles and ensure we are taking the right steps to keep our heart in tip top shape. Today we are reviewing heart health tips for your health, wellness, vitality and longevity.
It may surprise you to learn that heart disease is the number one cause of death among women in the U.S. While some of your propensity for heart disease is genetic, there are many risk factors that are within your control. These lifestyle factors are common healthy living practices that are also good for other areas of our holistic health and wellness. Plus, your heart is the lifeline that provides a steady, healthy beat for the rest of your body. So supporting your heart supports your entire body.
The American Heart Association, National Institute for Health and top cardiologists recommend the following heart health tips to keep your cardiovascular system strong and healthy for a lifetime:
Get Moving and Stay Moving: Exercise is vital for 20-30 minutes at least 5 days per week. This means any physical activity that gets your heart rate in its ideal range and strengthens your body. It’s important to find physical activities that stimulate you personally so they are sustainable for your life. Also, keep moving throughout the day. Sitting is one of the worst things you can do for your health, especially your heart. If you have a sedentary job, build in time to get up and move around periodically throughout the day.
Eat Clean: When it comes to your diet, get back to the basics: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, light dairy products and whole grains. Limit saturated fats, simple carbohydrates, salt, excessive alcohol, sugar and fried foods. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you should constantly limit your diet and sacrifice the joy of food. Rather, ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs while exploring innovative recipes with clean ingredients.
Stress Less and Sleep More: Our emotional and mental states have a huge impact on our heart health. Stress releases adrenaline and cortisol that can be damaging to the cardiovascular system, elevate blood pressure and potentially lead to heart disease. Taking time to de-stress and relax – through breathing patterns, meditation, hobbies and other stress management techniques – is vital to heart health. Also, allowing your heart time to rest during sleep hours lowers blood pressure and your heart rate. This critical nightly time-out for your heart is essential for maintaining long term health.
Stop Smoking: Smoking is one of worst health habits for your heart, and every other aspect of your health for that matter. In fact, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Tobacco causes plaque to build-up in your arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Plus, smoking decreases healthy cholesterol levels and your capacity for physical exercise.
Additional Heart Health Tips:
- Eat more antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, dark chocolate and a moderate amount of red wine
- Always eat breakfast
- Have more sex
- Get a pet
- Enjoy life, find happiness and laugh
- Workout your brain and keep your hands busy
- Stretch your body
- Get regular health screenings, keep track of your health stats and know your risk factors for heart disease
Happy Heart Health Month! Here’s to your best heart health!!