February is American Heart Month
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
The good news? Heart disease can be managed or prevented when people make health choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices
10 WAYS TO LOVE YOUR HEART
- Get moving. If you don't exercise at all, a brief walk is a great way to start. If you can not walk there are very safe chair exercises you could do. Lifting a hardcover book or a two-pound weight a few times a day can help tone your arm muscles. When that becomes a breeze, move on to heavier items
- Know your numbers. Check with your health care professional at least annually, you need to know your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and fasting blood sugar at a minimum. If any of these numbers are abnormal your health care professional can make recommendations to improve your numbers
- Eat one extra fruit or vegetable a day. Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive, taste good, and are good for everything from your brain to your bowels. The American Heart Association recommends 4-5 cups of vegetables and fruit daily.
- Make breakfast count. Start the day with some fruit and a serving of whole grains, like oatmeal, bran flakes, or whole-wheat toast.
- Stop drinking your calories. Cutting out just one sugar-sweetened soda or calorie-laden latte can easily save you 100 or more calories a day. Over a year, that can translate into a 10-pound weight loss.
- Have a handful of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts are good for your heart. Try grabbing some instead of chips or cookies when you need a snack, adding them to salads for a healthful and tasty crunch, or using them in place of meat in pasta and other dishes.
- Sample the fruits of the sea. Eat fish or other types of seafood instead of red meat twice a week. It's good for the heart, the brain, and the waistline.
- Breathe deeply. Try breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes a day. It can help you relax. Slow, deep breathing may also help lower blood pressure. If you are a smoker consider discussing methods to quit with your health professional.
- Enjoy dark chocolate. Numerous studies in recent years have verified the benefit of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate in moderation will help to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and the heart, prevent blood clots and fight cell damage.
- Count your blessings. Taking a moment each day to acknowledge the blessings in your life is one way to start tapping into other positive emotions. These have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being, just as their opposites — chronic anger, worry, and hostility — contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.