The next month is usually known as the month of love. Indeed, thanks to Valentine’s Day, you can expect to see a lot of hearts this February. But Valentine’s isn’t the only thing to celebrate this February. After all, this month is also National Heart Month. This is a time when organizations like Million Hearts encourage everyone to start living healthier, heart-friendly lifestyles. But you can do more than showing support through wearing accessories like personalized wristbands. After all, heart disease is one of the major causes of death in America. Hence, taking preventive measures can help you and your loved ones live longer and fuller lives. So keep with the spirit of National Heart Month through these simple steps:
1. Start eating heart healthy food
Your path to a heart-friendly lifestyle begins with what you eat. This means cutting down on high-cholesterol food like fried chicken, burgers, and fries. Why? These are high in saturated fats which can increase your risk of heart disease. Instead, switch to food that supplies nutrients for optimal cardiovascular health.
Some of these include seafood like salmon, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and eggs. While the latter has once been viewed as detrimental to one’s health, new studies have shown that eggs contain large amounts of HDL, the good cholesterol needed by the heart.
2. Do regular cardio workouts
Aside from eating right, regular workouts are a great way to burn off the excess flab. After all, getting your muscles to exert extra strength requires lots of energy from the stored fats in your body. One way to get started is by doing cardio exercises. These involve a lot of movement and can get the heart pumping more blood as you move. At least 20 to 30 minutes for 3 to 6 days is ideal for those looking to get their hearts in top condition.
Running, indoor cycling and treadmills are some of the machines you can start your routine. If you’re looking to step up your game, you can try doing plyometrics as well. This involves quick bursts of movement that can get your heart pumping. Some examples include tuck jumps, where you need to tuck your legs under you when you jump. Another one is called the burpee, where you jump as high as you can then get down into a plank position.
3. Do heart checkups with your doctor
Preventive maintenance can go a long way in the fight against heart disease. Simple things like going to the doctor for checkups can serve as an early warning if you’re at risk. Some of these tests can involve electrocardiogram (EKG) and blood cholesterol examinations.
If you’re really particular, you can even try heart-smart diagnostics like the advanced lipid profile and lipoprotein (a) test. This is a step up from the usual blood cholesterol exams since it also measures how large your cholesterol, HDL, and LDL particles are. In short, larger particles mean you’re at a lower risk, while smaller ones and a higher lipoprotein (a) amount can indicate a higher chance of heart disease.
4. Reduce smoking and drinking
Smoking and drinking are two of the deadliest risk factors for heart disease. The good news is that both are preventable. Smoking can harm your heart by increasing your blood pressure, raising the tendency for blood to clot, and by decreasing your exercise stamina. It also lowers your HDL or good cholesterol.
Like the former, binge drinking can also increase the risk of high blood pressure. It can also lead to more chances of suffering a heart attack or a stroke when left unchecked. In addition, it also weakens the cardiovascular muscles, reducing its ability to pump blood efficiently.
On the other hand, regulated drinking can have protective benefits for the heart. For one thing, alcohol can prevent blood clots, which closes the arteries and cause a heart attack. It can also increase HDL cholesterol in the blood and reduce the amount of fatty deposits, keeping your arteries clean.
5. Participate in a local awareness campaign
Knowing the causes of heart disease is the first step to preventing it. This is why advocacy groups often launch awareness campaigns during National Heart Month. Joining these activities and spreading the word on social media by posting about them is a great way to raise everyone’s awareness of heart disease.
Joining game booths, watching band performances, and attending talks by invited health experts are just some of the things that you can participate in. You can even buy their memorabilia as a way of donating to the cause.
These may be small steps, but making a habit out of them will contribute to a healthier heart as you live. By identifying the causes of heart disease and avoiding them, you can take steps to a more fulfilling lifestyle.