February is a special month for your heart in several ways. It is the month of Valentine’s Day, of course. But more importantly for your health, February is Hearth Health Month. Your heart is the lifeline of your body: pumping vital oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout. Heart health is connected to nearly every aspect of your full body and holistic health, which is why practicing heart-healthy living is so important.
You may be surprised to learn that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. While some of your heart’s condition is based on genetics, you also have control of many aspects of your own heart health based on lifestyle choices. In honor of Heart Health Month we are exploring the top ways to boost your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Be Active: The American Heart Association recommends being physically active for at least 150 minutes or 2½ hours per week. Elevating your heart rate through exercise will keep your heart strong and agile. Exercise is linked to longer life expectancy and an overall healthier quality of life. Any activities that raise your heart rate and strengthen muscles count as physical fitness. Beyond your typical workouts at the gym or running, activities such as sports, vigorous housework, chasing your children, walking stairs, and yard work all qualify as exercise. If you have limited time to devote to exercise, multi-task by incorporating physical activity into your daily routines. Not only will you lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes, you’ll feel accomplished as well.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: A heart-healthy diet includes plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and low-fat dairy products. Each of these categories contributes to maintaining healthy cells that sustain all bodily systems, give you energy and help protect you from potential illness and disease. A heart-healthy diet will include the following components:
A heart-healthy diet helps maintain a balance of cholesterol levels, triglycerides, blood pressure and heart rate. Along with exercise, a heart-wholesome diet supports healthy weight maintenance, steadier blood sugar levels and a lower risk of diabetes. Better yet, adding a heart-healthy superfood supplement like Moringa will help in achieving this daily nutritional balance.
Stop Smoking: Smoking is the leading preventable cause of heart disease, heart-related complications and many other health conditions as well. Smoking not only damages arteries that provide passage ways for blood to flow throughout the body, it can also raise cholesterol levels, contribute to weight gain and reduce lung capacity for physical activity. Smoking is a difficult habit to quit but doing so is vital to your heart health.
Manage Stress: Your body’s physiological reaction to stress can take a toll on your heart. Stress promotes harmful chemical reactions in the body that can raise blood pressure and have long-term damaging effects on your heart. Stress can increase risk of heart disease and heart-related conditions, especially if your body is under prolonged stress. Find ways to manage stress through relaxation, meditation, therapy, hobbies and any other healthy ways that calm your body.
Know your Risks of Heart Disease: Take time to research your personal risk of heart disease, which includes knowing your family’s heart history. Visit your physician regularly for check-ups to ensure your blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and blood sugar levels are within a normal range. If they are not, discuss ways to improve your condition and monitor yourself regularly. Remember, your age and lifestyle changes may come into play so be increasingly aware of these personal risk factors. Even the genetic risks of heart disease can be managed when you stay informed and take action to maintain your heart health.
Happy Heart Healthy Month! We hope you stay heart-healthy for years to come.