By Brianna Bell
February is the month to celebrate love—with red candy hearts and sweet chocolates being sold at every store, and florists busier than ever making romantic bouquets. But this is also the month that we focus on the non-candy shaped heart, too, because February is American Heart Month.
Focusing on heart health is important every month of the year. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), every 40 seconds someone in the United States will have a heart attack, and heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women nationwide.
The AHA says that the best way to protect yourself from heart disease is to care for your heart through a healthy diet and lifestyle. We’ve put together 10 ways that you can maintain a healthy heart.
According to the AHA, it’s important that you find out how many calories you should be eating and drinking in order to maintain your weight. The number of calories you need each day will depend on your weight, age, and physical activity levels. This handy calculator will help you calculate the specific number of calories that you need.
Daily exercise is crucial for your heart health, and going for a walk every day is a simple way to lower your risk of heart attack and heart disease. Thirty minutes of walking, five days each week, is an excellent way to keep your heart healthy.
Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, and one of the best things you can do for your overall health is to cut out tobacco by quitting smoking or vaping.
While it’s important to consider how many calories you consume, it’s also crucial that those calories are mainly from healthy foods. Well-known heart healthy foods include healthy nuts, fish with Omega-3’s, colourful berries, and nutritious oats and legumes.
We already know that exercise is important for your heart health, but not everyone enjoys hitting the gym regularly. Instead, consider taking up a recreational sport, such as swimming, basketball, tennis, or soccer. According to one study, a single exercise event could have long-lasting effects on your heart health.
New research shows that drinking sugary drinks increases your chance of dying from heart disease. A simple change is to cut back on the amount of sugary drinks you consume, even by cutting out half the amount you’ll be making great strides at a healthier heart—and reducing unnecessary calories, too!
The AHA recommends meditating as an effective and inexpensive tool for reducing your stress and combating heart disease. Stress is known to have negative effects on your overall health, including your heart health. Reducing stress through meditation, mindfulness, or yoga are excellent practices to achieve a healthier heart.
Cooking oils are usually a necessity for making nutritious meals, but there are cooking oils that are not considered healthy for your heart, and oils that promote a healthy heart. The AHA recommends eliminating saturated and trans fats, and cooking with better-for-you oils like canola, olive, and sunflower oil.
While it’s important to know how many calories you should be consuming, it’s also important to maintain a healthy weight for optimal heart health. If you are above a healthy weight, incorporating exercise and nutritious foods should help you to achieve greater health. The AHA says that a healthy weight allows for better circulation of your blood, reduces your risk of heart disease and other health challenges, and will provide you with more energy.
Some studies suggest that overworking can increase your chances of heart disease. Allowing yourself regular and routine breaks from work will give your body a chance to relax, and reduce your stress. While not all of us can go away for a week on a tropical vacation, most of us can schedule routine breaks from work, whether it’s a weekend hike, or unplugging for your vacation week and enjoying a staycation at home.
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