February is Heart Disease Awareness Month. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, celebrate your heart!Follow these heart-healthy tips from the Mayo Clinic to keep your ticker ticking:
· Don’t smoke or use tobacco. This nasty habit is one of the most controllable risk factors for heart disease. You start to improve your heart health within minutes of quitting. After one year, your heart disease risk is cut in half and, after 10 years of not smoking, your heart disease risk is the same as for someone who has never smoked.
· Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week. Whether you hit the elliptical, jog around your neighborhood or take a Zumba class, make your fitness routine fun! Play tag with your kids or take your dog on a long walk. By involving the whole family in your workout, you can spend extra time bonding and creating lifelong memories.
· Eat a heart-healthy diet. Eat foods that are low in fat, cholesterol and salt. Your diet should be high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products which can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease. Read my previous blog, Heart Healthy Holiday Eating, for additional diet ideas.
· Maintain a healthy weight. You don't have to be super-thin to reap the benefits of a smaller waistline, but according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, carrying too much weight around the middle raises blood pressure, affects blood lipids and does damage to the heart. Abdominal exercises are good, but remember that it's calories in (what you eat) and calories out (how you exercise) that will make a difference.
· Get regular health screenings. Keeping your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides in check are important for good heart health. Learn your optimal levels and don't skip your annual physical exam.Even small, steady changes in your life can help create a stronger, more efficient heart. More than half of heart disease is preventable, and studies have shown that 90% of heart attacks can be prevented by eating a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and legumes; exercising; maintaining a healthy weight; and not smoking.
Do you need help creating an exercise program that will benefit your heart? Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn about our convenient training sessions that can be scheduled before work, during lunch or in the evenings.