We all know February is the month of hearts and love because of Valentine's Day, but did you also know it’s American Heart Month? That’s right. A whole month dedicated to promoting cardiovascular health. The reason for this is because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing one in four deaths every year. Due to this alarming statistic, we wanted to take some time to share with you tips on how to take care of your heart. We all know our hearts are amazing parts of ourselves (even if that ex of yours didn’t treat it that way), so why not take some time to love your heart.
1) STRESS LESS
We all have felt how our bodies feel when we are stressed but did you really know what it is doing to your heart? Stress increases your heart rate and your blood vessels narrow. Sure, a moment here and there of stress isn’t going to hurt you too much but continually stressing over a long time isn’t healthy! The more you stress the more likely you are to have a heart attack due to all the strain being put on your heart. Find ways to relax. Yes, I know, easier said than done. Try muscle relaxation by releasing tension throughout your body or give meditation a shot. If nothing else, take a few deep breaths when you are feeling stress because as your breathing slows so does your blood pressure and heart rate.
2) MOVE MORE
Try to get in a minimum of 2.5 hours of physical activity each week. Now before we start making excuses, let’s break this down. That equates to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Does this seem too much to do at once? Don’t worry! Break it down into little segments. Maybe take the stairs for 5 minutes here, walk around the blog for 10 minutes. That is okay! When starting out, it doesn’t matter the details, what matters is just to get you moving more. Some physical activity is better than none.
3) EAT HEALTHIER
Food and cooking can be complicated and overwhelming at time. Finding new recipes, making a list, going grocery shopping and so on. We suggest – keep it simple. A healthy diet that is low in saturated fats and sodium is a great way towards having a healthier heart. Focus on eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Eat things like beans, nuts, fish, poultry and low-fat dairy products. Limit sugar and other kinds of sweeteners. Just remember, you don’t have to change everything all at once. Start by swapping something out at a meal. Instead of having French fries with your burger, make a salad. Once you have that down, move onto the next food swap. Little steps still get us to where we are going, so don’t disregard your actions even if you can’t make the full big leaps. You are still moving forward and in the right direction.
4) CATCH YOUR Zs
We all know we need plenty of sleep but we easily overlook just how important it truly is. When your body is in deep sleep it allows the body to have moments of lowered heart rate and blood pressure. When you rest, your heart rests. Simple as that. Try making sleep a priority in your life and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep.
5) QUIT SMOKING
Not only is smoking unhealthy for you but it is for those around you too due to secondhand smoke. Smoking can increase the buildup of fatty substances in your arteries which puts strain on your heart. This, in turn, can lead to a heart attack. Secondhand smoke can do the same to those around you even if they aren’t directly smoking the cigarette.
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