In a month that is traditionally known for celebrating love and all things heart related, February also marks the month in which we are reminded to take care of our own hearts.
This is a great time to commit yourself to a healthy lifestyle and to start making the small changes that will lead to a lifetime of heart health. While heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., it is also one of the most preventable.
Here are 5 ways in which you can help prevent heart disease:
- Maintain a healthy weight: One of the most important things you can do for your heart is maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can contribute to heart disease as well as a lot of other health problems. CALCULATE YOUR BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) HERE
- Don’t smoke: If you are a smoker, make plans to begin a smoking cessation program. Nicotine narrows and restricts your blood vessels, which is bad for blood flow. You can stop this damage by making the choice to not smoke. One of the best things you can do for your health is to not use nicotine in any form. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT QUITTING
- Follow a healthy diet: The best diet for preventing heart disease is one that is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, and poultry. It is best to go easy on red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar, sodium and food that are high in trans fats. It is also best to drink in moderation.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR DIET HERE
- Watch your blood pressure: High blood pressure or Hypertension increases your risk of stroke and heart disease if left unchecked. If there is a history of high blood pressure in your family it is best to speak with your doctor about preventative measures you can take to lower your risks. Lowering stress is one key to helping keep blood pressure in check. Take some time to meditate or take up yoga. Work on a hobby, or listen to music that you find soothing.
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- Get regular physical exercise: There is a significant amount of research that proves that there are great benefits to our cardiovascular systems when we participate in regular daily exercise. Start small if you need to. Maybe a walk to the corner of your street and back, or a 30 minutes bicycle ride. The important thing is that you are moving.
Changing your lifestyle can be a powerful intervention to prevent heart disease and that can lead to a longer, healthier life. These five simple steps can make a big difference in your heart health. Each involves making good choices and requires some discipline, but all are doable. Help make a difference in your community by spreading the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encouraging those around you to make healthy choices for a long, happy life.