Four Healthy Habits for American Heart Month
February is American Heart month. By participating in National Wear Red Day, the first Friday of the month, you can open the door to conversations that will encourage others to discover why heart health is so important, and how they can become healthier themselves. This is a great time to focus on increasing cardiovascular health for the entire family. Set an example for those closest to you by practicing the following four habits:
Reduce Sodium Intake
Hypertension, high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention has helped thousands of patients reduce their blood pressure, subsequently lowering their risk for heart issues in the future. They stress the importance of working to lower sodium intake for better health.
Reducing sodium in your diet doesn’t have to be difficult.
- Eliminate or reduce added salt to daily meals. Experiment with salt-free alternatives.
- Check sodium labels when choosing prepackaged foods.
- Reduce consumption of fast food meals which can contain high amounts of sodium.
- Fill your plate with healthy fruits and vegetables to add nutrients rich in antioxidants and fiber, replacing less desirable foods.
- Invite children to help choose and prepare healthy meals to set a great example and educate them at the same time.
Make Daily Physical Activity A Priority
The American Heart Association shares many heart-healthy options to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. One goal is to try to be physically active each day. Start by inviting a friend to take a short walk around the block. Hike a new trail with your pup. Join a local gym. Play outside with the kids or grandkids. A family bike ride will keep everyone moving, having fun together, and building memories.
If you’re new to exercise, try parking further away when shopping. Take the stairs when you can. Set alarms on your phone throughout the day to stretch and move around. Small steps can lead to big health changes as you work toward your goal.
For a healthy heart lifestyle, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
- To practice better sleep hygiene, stick to regular morning and evening routines. Night-time habits will let your body know it’s time to rest.
- Keep screens out of the bedroom and turn them off completely a few hours before you go to bed. Screens can disrupt melatonin production, a hormone that is responsible for helping our bodies sleep well. Encourage children to keep screens out of their bedrooms and adopt healthy sleep habits too.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark and comfortable to create a space conducive to rest.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease is to avoid smoking.
According to the National Institute of Health, risks associated with heart disease diminish as soon as you quit smoking. Stopping the habit is even more beneficial than taking common medications prescribed to reduce your risk. Consider talking to your doctor if you need options to help you quit.
By developing a few simple habits, you can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke for yourself and your loved ones. Check out more by perusing the hashtag #OurHearts on your favorite social media platforms.