Every February is designated as American Heart Month, which makes it a great time to review your health and reduce your chances of developing a cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths in the United States.
Many factors contribute to your heart’s health, including your diet, blood pressure and cholesterol. Here are some tips you can use during American Heart Month to lower your risks of cardiovascular disease:
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, four or more times a week. Even if your first workouts are slow, you can increase the time and intensity as you progress.
- Get frequent medical checkups that include blood pressure and cholesterol tests. You can also talk to your primary care physician about medications that can improve your heart’s health.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also, try to avoid pre-prepared foods, saturated fats and trans fats.
- Avoid drinking excess amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
- Keep your stress levels low by practicing relaxation techniques and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.
- Limit your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams per day.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 1 in 3 women has a form of cardiovascular disease. And, heart disease is the leading cause of hospital stays for men in the United States. Due to the prevalence of the disease, the AHA recognizes each February as American Heart Month in hopes of raising awareness about the disease and how to prevent it.
Did you know that exercising regularly could help you fight off chronic conditions and diseases? Exercise can help control your blood pressure, blood sugar and weight, raise your “good” cholesterol, and prevent diseases such as cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. According to the AHA, you should do these three exercises to improve your heart health:
- Aerobic activity: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (e.g., briskly walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (e.g., running) every week.
- Muscle strengthening: Incorporate muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week. For the purposes of general training, focus on two to three upper body and lower body exercises. Abdominal exercises are an important part of strength training as well.
- Flexibility training: Flexibility training is important too, but it is frequently neglected, resulting in increased tightness as you age and become less active.
2 Heart-healthy Indulgences You’re Sure to Be Excited About
You may have heard whispers of dark chocolate and red wine being good for you and thought it’s too good to be true. Good news—the rumors are true. That’s right, there is some science behind the claims that these two indulgences can be good for your heart health.
According to researchers, red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol, which can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health. Dark chocolate contains a different antioxidant, called flavanol, which helps reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should go out and buy red wine and chocolate and splurge. Talk to your doctor to determine what enjoying these “in moderation” means for you.
Stress and Heart Health
While there are risk factors that contribute to heart disease that you can’t control, there are many things you can do to maintain your heart health. One of those things is to reduce your stress.
When stress is excessive, it can contribute to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure. If high blood pressure goes untreated, it can result in heart disease.
Taking steps to reduce your stress will improve your overall health. Try these tips:
- Plan and prioritize your most important responsibilities.
- Listen to relaxing music to help you calm down.
- Take time off from work to clear your mind.
- Exercise regularly to get your blood and endorphins flowing.
If the stresses in your life become more than you can bear or manage with these simple techniques, consider seeking professional assistance. A knowledgeable professional will be able to work with you to devise time management skills and stress-reducing techniques.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. Readers should contact a health professional for appropriate advice. © 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.