Your Heart Health Matters!
How many times a day do you think about your heart? It’s beating and that’s enough right? Far from it! Your heart health is incredibly important and something as seemingly minor as high blood pressure is more common than you might think. In fact, the CDC tells us that 1 in 2 adults has high blood pressure, and of those, only 1 in 4 has it under control. High blood pressure can quickly lead to heart disease, which is actually the Number One killer of women, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). For men, if you are over the age of 45, you are more at risk for heart disease.
February is National Heart Month, so it’s a great time to take note of ways to improve your heart health and start making some of these changes.
First, you have to know what your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are. So, get checked! Because high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol are two of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, these are great places to start. The more you know about your heart health, the better decisions you can make.
Choose The Right Foods
Just like your diet affects your overall health, it also affects your heart health. The NHLBI recommends fruits and vegetables while avoiding foods with saturated and trans fats or added sugars. The CDC also recommends whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.
Maintain Your Healthy Weight
You don’t have to be the skinniest or fittest person in the room, but you should try to maintain a healthy weight. The NHLBI recommends keeping your Body Mass Index between 18.5 and 24.9. Body Mass Index (BMI) is just one scale used to help determine if a person is at a healthy weight, talk to your doctor about what your healthy weight range is!
Manage Your Stress
Our lives are stressful. There are tons of demands on our time and not enough energy to go around! But learning good stress management techniques is crucial for your heart health, says the NHLBI. Try practicing meditation, mindfulness, learning healthy coping skills, or speaking with a counselor.
You don’t have to run a marathon or win a bodybuilding competition, but you should have regular exercise to maintain your heart health. Not only will it help to keep your weight in check, but it can also help regulate your cholesterol. The CDC recommends getting a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week (that’s just about 21 minutes per day), along with at least 2 days of muscle-strengthening activity.
Both the CDC and NHLBI agree that quitting smoking is an essential step in improving your heart health. The NHLBI explains that smoking increases your risk of heart disease and heart attack. It can also make your other heart disease risk factors worse. Talk with your doctor about a plan to quit today or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free support.
Get Some Sleep
It can be a challenge to get the right amount of sleep, but it actually has a real impact on your heart health. Without the right amount of good, quality sleep, you’ll be more at risk for chronic health problems, according to the NHLBI. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for adults 18 and older.
This is a simple one you can do right now: have a glass of water! The CDC recommends trading your sugary drinks for water to help reduce your calories, keeping your weight in check, and maintaining a heart-healthy diet. They also recommend only drinking alcohol in moderation.
You are important to your loved ones. They want you around for as long as possible. To make sure you are there for all the great moments, you need to spend time thinking about your heart health. Simple lifestyle changes can improve your risk factors for heart disease before it’s too late. Make February the month you focus on your heart health and try these simple habits to reduce your risks today.