4 tips to take to 'heart'



Did you know that February is National American Heart Month? Designated by the President of the United States each year, National American Heart Month aims to raise awareness about the importance of cardiovascular fitness.

Heart disease is responsible for about one in every four deaths in the U.S. and claims the lives of more than half a million people each year, making it the leading cause of death in both men and women. While those statistics can seem scary, there are four simple things you can do today to reduce your risk of heart disease and keep your heart healthy and strong. 

  • Get moving! You don't necessarily have to run a marathon, but even the simplest of exercises can make a difference. Take a walk around the block, choose the stairs instead of an elevator, even take a quick lap around the office! Doctors suggest at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, five times a week, for adults. 

    In addition to the physical benefits, aerobic exercise is shown to increase cognition and brain function in adults of all ages. So it's a win-win! 
  • Commit to healthier eating. A healthier diet and a healthier heart go hand in hand. Instead of reaching for that box of Oreos, try reaching for a handful of fruit or vegetables. Fruits and veggies provide heart-healthy nutrients, including fiber, antioxidants, potassium, B vitamins, and vitamins A and C. 

    Be mindful of your animal fat intake as well (red meat, butter, etc.) as these can lead to an elevated cholesterol level. 
     
  • Take a deep breath and relax. While some days can be stressful, remember to always take care of yourself first. Stress can increase your risk of heart disease 2.5 times by putting your body into constant fight-or-flight mode, triggering inflammation, high blood pressure, and other unhealthy changes.

    Engaging in practices like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can all help to dial down the body's stress response. 
     
  • Stop the smoke. Did you know heart disease risk goes down 50 percent in the first year after quitting smoking and becomes equivalent to a nonsmoker after 10 years? Smoking causes damage throughout our circulatory system leading to hardened arteries and diminished lung capacity, making it challenging to engage in physical activity. 

    By quitting, you immediately lower your risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. It can also help lessen your lung damage and lower your risk of cancer.


While National American Heart Month may only be celebrated one month out of the year, it's important to always keep these tips in mind to ensure your heart keeps ticking for years to come! 

For additional resources and tools for your cardiovascular health, visit: https://heart.org/en/