Each February marks the start of Heart Health Month, presented by the American Heart Association (AHA). If you want to make a change for heart health month, start with one or two of these ideas.
Make a Change for Heart Health Month
1. Get Educated
First things first, if you want to make a change for heart health month, you’ll want to get educated on the topic. Without proper information about what you’re protecting yourself from, you may have less of a desire to try your hardest.
Knowing the risk factors for heart disease and high blood pressure and the seriousness of it will also help the following tips and suggestions make more sense. Heart disease kills about 1 in 4 people each year in the U.S.
If you don’t know a lot about what heart disease is, click here to become more educated on the subject.
2. Increase Food Awareness
Changing the way you eat and being more aware of what you’re putting in your body will help you make a change for heart health month.
Most Americans eat at least double the recommended about of sodium each day (about 2,300 mg) and far too much added sugar. Sodium is especially high in frozen foods to keep them preserved for longer and in dishes from restaurants.
As for sugar, most Americans consume extra sugar from beverages like soda and sports drinks. Sugar can increase obesity levels and blood pressure.
Before you pick an item from the grocery store, look at the label and see if there are healthier options to choose from. Try and do similarly with restaurants by looking at their nutritional facts before picking a meal.
The best option, though, is to start cooking at home and measure out ingredients as you go so you are in control of how much salt and fat are going into your food. It’s also a less expensive option compared to eating out of buying pre-made food.
3. Drink Less Alcohol
Drinking alcohol every now and then most likely won’t damage your heart. However, drinking excessively and often enough can cause harm to your heart.
Excessive alcohol may cause blood pressure levels to rise and ultimately cause heart disease or a heart attack.
Additionally, drinking too much alcohol can cause weight gain and obesity, which can also lead to heart attacks or strokes.
4. Exercise More Frequently
Exercising once or twice a week is better than nothing, but doctors recommend to get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Aiming for 30 minutes a day of brisk walking or any activity that gets your heart rate elevated will help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Frequent and regular exercise helps to keep your heart strong and lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Having lower cholesterol can help to avoid the high risk of heart disease.
Exercise also helps to release endorphins, which help to relax the body and mind. Mental health is equally as important as physical health. Reducing stress can also lower the risk of heart attacks.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking is a habit that, for years, has been shown to be detrimental to a person’s health. It can cause lung cancer or death over a long period of time.
High blood pressure can also occur with a smoking habit. Your heart and lungs were not made to work in a smoky, toxic environment.
Talk to your doctor about the best way to go about quitting. It may take time, but your health will vastly improve by quitting.