February is National Heart Health Month! Use the below tips on how to show your ticker some self-care this month and beyond.
Note: Each individual should follow their medical professional or doctor’s advice and speak with them before making diet or exercise changes.
Heart Month History
The month of cupid, candy, and hearts isn’t just about love, but also about showing yourself you care by prioritizing your heart health. February has been associated with hearts since Valentines were mass produced in the United States in 1847. In addition, since 1963, February has also been designated American Heart Month in the U.S.
In his Proclamation 3566, former President Lyndon B. Johnson called out a “nationwide problem of heart and blood-vessel diseases” and urged citizens to support programs toward a solution to the problem of heart disease.
Heart disease can be fought. The first step is knowing risks that lead to poor heart health, which include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, being overweight, following a poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
In addition to quitting smoking and decreasing excessive alcohol consumption, actions can be taken to reduce such risks.
Getting out for a daily walk is not only good for mental health and weight management, but also for heart health! The World Health Organizations says adults over 65 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week—that’s just around 20 minutes per day! Aerobic activity should be done in bouts of at least 10 minutes.
Read More: “Seven Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle”
Is the way to your heart through your stomach? The Mayo Clinic recommends eating more vegetables and fruits as they have substances that may help cardiovascular health. They also recommend whole grains such as whole-grain bread and high-fiber cereals. Monitoring sodium is also important. Items high in salt include tomato juice, soy sauce, and many prepared foods.
More healthy eating tips: “The Importance of a Healthy Weight for Older Adults“
Getting active and eating better will go a long way in helping you achieve this final suggestion for better heart health, managing cholesterol! The first step in improving cholesterol is to seek out a medical professional to find your levels for both cholesterol types. If your bad cholesterol (LDL) is high, make sure to have a health professional help you to monitor it.
Learn the difference between good and bad cholesterol: “Cholesterol: The Good and the Bad.”
Give yourself a Valentine this February with a commitment to improving your overall heart health!