February is the month of hearts: heart-shaped cards, pillows, soaps, boxes of chocolates, even eggs! But have we ever took the time to think about our actual blood-pumping heart? Do we keep it healthy enough to enjoy future Valentine’s days?
Aside from being the Valentine’s month, February is also known as the American Heart Month. With heart disease being the leading cause of death for both men and women (according to CDC), you might want to start paying close attention to your cardiovascular health. If you don’t know where to begin, here are some healthy heart tips.
Get regular exercise.
Everyone needs regular exercise as daily exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease. It also helps control your weight and reduces stress. According to the American Heart Association, ages 18-65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of intense activity five times a week. Brisk walking for 30 minutes is good, but if you have a sedentary lifestyle, take small steps. You can start with activities such as gardening, walking the dog or taking the stairs.
If you haven’t started, don’t even think of it. Smokers are more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers. Staying away from smoking can prevent heart and lung diseases, aside from cancer. If you already had a heart attack, quitting smoking reduces the risk of a second one.
Keep weight down.
An obese person is more likely to have a stroke or heart attack compared to those who have a normal BMI. Extra fat also puts extra stress and strain to your heart, pushing it to pump harder. If you want to put your weight down, try eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugary food. Utilize cold press juicers to help you make nutritious fruits drinks. Make sure not to go beyond two drinks of alcohol a day as well.
Maintain oral hygiene.
High levels of bacteria found in infected areas of the mouth can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. Also, bacteria from the mouth can enter the body and reach the heart – resulting in myocarditis and endocarditis.
Reduce salt intake.
Too much salt intake increases the risk of high blood pressure. On average, Americans take in more salt than the recommended limit not because of the salt shakers on the table, but because of processed food, canned goods, breads and pastas. Try eating food that is less processed to decrease salt and improve the overall quality of health.
If you are stressed, you are vulnerable to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, unhealthy eating, and drinking alcohol. Ensure a healthy heart by taking time to relax from work or personal stressors. You can do this by trying meditation techniques, yoga, music therapy, or simple relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
Know your numbers.
It’s a great idea to monitor your status to know where you stand. Frequently check your body mass index and blood pressure. Get yourself screened and take advantage of cheap healthcare plans for regular visits to the doctor. When you know your heart’s health status, you would know what you should do for a more healthy lifestyle.
The tips mentioned above will keep your heart healthy for Valentine’s day (and any other day of the year, for that matter). Have a happy and healthy heart!
About the author: Melissa Page is a fitness buff who works with numerous successful companies. When she’s not busy writing, she’s at the gym or at bowling centers.