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Health & Wellness

5 Ways to Show Your Heart Some Love During American Heart Month and Beyond

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Every day, your heart takes care of you. Are you taking care of your heart?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, one in four American deaths is tied to heart disease, according to the CDC. February is American Heart Month, and it’s a good time to do a quick assessment on your heart healthy habits. There are a number of things that you can do that might prevent heart disease and strengthen that important muscle. Here’s how to get started.

Quit smoking.  According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, smoking is a risk factor for heart disease, and causes one in five deaths each year in the United States. Need help to quit? The American Lung Association offers tips and tools to aid in smoking cessation, including a counselor-staffed phone line you can call for support.  

Know your numbers. Be proactive when it comes to your health. Visit your doctor for regular physicals when you’re healthy so you’ll have a baseline on important numbers such as cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, waist circumference, body mass index and more. That way, if anything changes your doctor will be able to detect it and respond quickly.  

Get your heart pumping. Break out those gym shoes and get your heart rate up! Physical activity is good for your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise  or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, or a combination of the two. In other words, aim for about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Find an activity you love so that you’re more likely to stick with it. (Be sure and check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to start a workout routine).

Watch what you eat. A heart-healthy diet is a habit worth adopting. Try controlling portion size, eating more fruits and vegetables, minimizing “bad” fats, opting for whole grains and choosing foods that may make you feel better in the long run—not just in the moment. Try and eat more home-cooked meals and fewer at restaurants. That way, you know what’s going into your food and have more control.  

Redirect your stress. Learning to manage stress is something of an art, and it’s one that may make a positive impact on your health. Find a healthy activity that relaxes you—yoga, meditation, mindfulness, running, cycling, swimming, kickboxing—and commit to doing it regularly. Self-care can sometimes feel selfish, but making your health a priority may be a building block to, well, everything else.

By engaging in small changes in your day-to-day life, you may be able to make a big difference for your long-term health. Have a little heart and invite friends and loved ones to join you in the movement to choose health, during American Heart Month and every month.

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