February is American Heart Month! We are sharing lifestyle tips to help you improve your heart health. A balanced diet, physical activity, and other healthy habits are closely tied to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
Here we highlight five areas to improve your heart health and overall well-being.
Engaging in moderate physical activity for about 20 minutes per day reduces the risk of heart disease. Maintaining a regular exercise routine reduces your chances of developing other conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, that put unnecessary strain on the heart. If you are unable to do 20 minutes of physical activity per day, try breaking the workouts into 5 minute sessions or try to do a 10 minute workout one to two times per week, and build up from there.
Remember that activities such as gardening, housekeeping, and walking the dog all count toward your total. You don’t have to exercise strenuously to achieve benefits, but you can see bigger benefits by increasing the intensity, duration, and frequency of your workouts.
2. Eat healthy.
A well-balanced, heart-healthy diet can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease. The top heart-healthy diets include lots of green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, and a variety of fruits and whole grains. They also include a variety of snacks known to boost heart health, including healthy nuts, berries, dark chocolate, and more. It’s important to note that a heart-healthy diet should limit certain fats and be low in sodium and sugar, too.
Getting an adequate amount of quality sleep is important for our brains, hearts, and overall health. A lack of quality sleep can increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, and depression. Most adults need seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night – if you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested. If you feel groggy throughout the day, consult your primary physician to be evaluated for sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders.
Stress can lead us to unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, drinking, or smoking. Over time, stress negatively impacts our bodies and increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Find positive ways to manage stress levels; exercise, social activities, or yoga and other meditation practices are all great ways to relax and rejuvenate.
5. Get check-ups.
Regular health screenings are an important part of a well-rounded health plan. Your primary physician can test for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other conditions and be able provide earlier treatment options if diagnosed. Your doctor may also recommend early screenings depending on genetic and other risk factors.
Be proactive about your heart health and implement these five tips to reduce your risk of heart disease! Visit our blog throughout the month of February for other heart-healthy tips and information on heart disease, cardiac rehabilitation and more!