Focusing on your cardiovascular health is always important, but February, American Heart Health Month, is a great reminder to schedule your annual check-up and get informed about everything you didn’t know about heart health.
We all know we should be exercising and eating healthy, but how often, how hard and how much?
This heart-healthy guide will answer some of the pressing questions you’ve always had about how to keep your heart pumping stronger and longer!
Heart Health Month Tip 1: You should be active for at least 150 minutes per week.
Being active is one of the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease.
As a society, we used to engage in physical activity through our everyday lives. These days, we’re sitting behind a computer or smartphone more often than physical tasks and the impact on our cardiovascular health has become significant. Anything you can do to add activity into your lifestyle is going to benefit your heart health.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
Those that engage in more vigorous aerobic activity can knock that down to 75 minutes per week, but you should really aim for a combination of both types, spread throughout the week.
For ultimate benefit, aim to be active for 300 minutes a week which works out to about an hour a day, Monday through Friday.
Heart Health Month Tip 2: How you wear your weight matters.
Studies have shown the role of body weight (too much or too little) in heart health. But did you know that even people with a healthy body mass index (BMI) can be at an increased risk of heart disease if they carry too much fat around the middle?
Research has shown that the existence of excess abdominal fat can lead to negative cardiovascular outcomes even for those with a BMI that is considered in the healthy range.
Heart Health Month Tip 3: It’s never too late to stop smoking.
We’ve all heard about the negative impacts smoking and vaping can have on your physical health, but it’s never too late to give up the habits and reap the benefits.
In fact, within just a year of quitting smoking, your risk for coronary heart disease will have dropped by 50%. In 10 years, it will be the same as if you never smoked.
Heart Health Month Tip 4: A little sexy time goes a long way.
Looking for a great way to make being heart-healthy a little more fun?
Research has shown that men who had sex at least twice a week and women who report having healthy sex lives were half as likely to die of heart disease when compared to men who had sex rarely.
Heart Health Month Tip 5: Mental health is HEALTH.
Anyone who has experienced stress can account for its debilitating effects on their overall health. Some research also supports the idea that minding your mental health could play an important role in your cardiovascular wellbeing.
Take time to invest in self-care and make an effort to keep your mental health in the happy region if you want to lower your risk of heart disease and death.
Heart Health Month Tip 6: You can’t blame your parents for everything.
While some people are predisposed to face heart disease and other issues, the truth is that your lifestyle choices can make a difference when it comes to your risk of heart disease.
The American Heart Association journal calls it “Life’s Simple 7” – and these are the seven risk factors that you can improve by making lifestyle choices.
Make a commitment to yourself to manage your blood pressure, make healthy food choices, stay active, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, lose weight and avoid smoking and you can dramatically impact your cardiovascular health.
Heart Health Month Tip 7: Up that Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation in the body to help reduce the risk of stroke and heart failure among other things.
Adding fatty fish like salmon, cod and canned tuna, along with things like walnuts and flaxseed can help you get your Omega-3 intake up.
Also consider taking fish oil or flaxseed to support overall heart health, as well as healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Heart Health Month Tip 8: Drink up.
You’ve probably heard that having a glass of red wine with dinner is good for your heart, but did you know that researchers believe other types of alcohol have heart-healthy benefits as well?
If you’re someone who imbibes from time to time, you’ll be happy to know that all types of alcohol – not just that found in red wine – have been found to help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the formation of blood clots, among other things. And those who drink alcohol in moderation have been found to have a lower risk of heart disease.
Heart health is something that’s important to consider when we make lifestyle choices, and learning the risk factors of early heart disease and how to prevent it will help you make positive choices to live a longer, healthier life.