Updated: Feb 6
Did you know February is National Healthy Heart Month?
It's a great time to talk about the simple ways you can strengthen a healthy heart and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Because sadly according to the American Heart Associate, 1 in 3 women are diagnosed with heart disease annually.
The good news is in most cases, heart disease is preventable. Adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol, treating high blood pressure, and getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week along with regular health checkups are key.
Here are some simple tips to get started and then keep you on a healthy track.
Know your stats
Heart disease doesn't just effect older populations. In fact, many of the following health conditions and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors that put people at risk are appearing at younger ages:
High blood pressure
Lack of physical activity
Unhealthy food habits
What can you do to improve your health and lower your risk?
There are four simple steps you can take to reduce your risk dramatically, no matter your age:
Don’t smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
Manage health conditions. Work with your health care providers to manage conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Make heart-healthy food changes. Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits. Reduce consumption of trans fats, saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium.
Stay active. Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. Just 10 minute increments broken up throughout the day can add up quick!
How to maintain it
Once you've made some healthy heart improvements, the key is to maintain it.
1. Follow a healthy and well balanced eating plan: a balance of lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains and lots of fruits and veggies.
2. Engage in regular physically activity: the American Heart Association recommends 30min. of moderate to vigorous exercise 5 days a week. What counts as exercise? Here are some simple ways to get started.
3. Keep up on regular wellness exams: partner with a health care provider you trust to help monitor your health & fitness, watch your numbers and keep an eye out for possible signs of increased disease risk. Naturopaths, primary care physicians, gynecologists, health coaches, nutritionists, personal trainers - they're all great resources!
4. Know your family history: no you can't escape your DNA, but when you know your risks you can proactively help decrease them!
5. Reduce daily stressors: stress less and smile more. Sounds simple right? So many of us live under constant stress, and that is a BIG challenge to your whole health (mind, body and spirit), especially your heart. Here are some tips to help you stress less and enjoy more.
6. Watch your waistline: belly fat is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Crunches and planks are great for fitness and building those deep abdominal muscles, but exercise alone won't keep the belly fat at bay. Watch those empty calorie intakes, be mindful of calorie intakes vs. expenditures, and be aware of the diet roller coaster. Here are a few more tips to help you empower healthy dietary habits.
7. Get your zzzz's: getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night has been shown to boost memory, enhance immunity, reduce inflammation, increase productivity, sharpen mental focus, support a healthier waistline, reduce stress, and empower healthier habits.
8. Know the signs for heart attack and stroke: the symptoms are different for men and women. From numbness and weakness in the face, arms and legs, to sudden blurry vision, dizziness and/or mental confusion, to a severe headache with no known cause, often symptoms are overlooked. Visit www.heart.org for more information.
Take away - our time is precious and so is your health! The time you spend taking care of your body now will pay you back in droves. Taking proactive steps today will help you reduce your risk health issues down the road, and prevention is always better for mind, body and spirit (not to mention pocketbook). It's easy to feel overwhelmed when first starting out, starting with one small step at time is key. Maybe it's drinking more water, or eating fruit in place of sugary snacks. Maybe it's walking to the coffee shop rather than driving or signing up for personal training for accountability. Or maybe it's scheduling your wellness exam to ensure your numbers are still in check.
Healthy eating begins with healthy food choices. And you don’t need a chef's culinary skill to create nutritious, heart healthy meals you will love. As you learn what to look for at the grocery store, restaurants, workplace and any other eating occasion, you'll feel empowered to make healthier choices.
Inside my FREE guide I will share 14 nutritious and delicious foods to help you eat heart healthy so you can...
Reduce your risk of disease
Support healthy body function
Empower healthy food habits
Support a healthy waistline
Boost your nutrition