February is Heart Health Month! Taking care of your heart is crucial to living a heart-healthy life, and can help manage or even prevent certain forms of heart disease. Luckily there are some simple steps to help you take better care of your heart health. Note, I am not a nurse or doctor or healthcare professional in any way. Listed below are simple suggestions that can improve the general health and well-being of any person. Please see your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your heart or heart health!
Without further ado, here are ten steps you can take toward better heart health, according to Harvard Medical Center:
- Take a ten minute walk once a day. This is quick and easy to fit in to any schedule. Take your dog out for a brisk stroll around the block, or go and take a quick walk during your lunch break at work! I personally take my dog for a 10-15 minute walk every day, even in the winter (unless temps are below zero). It’s great exercise for the both of us, and Willow loves the chance to be outside!
- Strength training is also important to heart health. Do some light exercises for your arms at home by lifting some light weights a few times a day. If you can, move on to the gym and start increasing your strength by lifting a little heavier. Right now I’m using the Sweat app by Kayla Itsines. I just started, but I will let you know what I think of the program and whether or not it’s worth the investment. (This is not sponsored, I paid for the program and am genuinely interested to see how it works!).
- Eat one extra fruit or veggie a day. This is a given in any health management routine. Reap maximum benefits by making sure to eat at least five servings a day combined of fruits and veggies – at least two servings of fruit and at least three servings of veggies is ideal. Do you absolutely HATE eating veggies? Sneak them into a fruity smoothie with some of these sneaky smoothie recipes.
- Start off your day with a heart-healthy breakfast. A serving of fruit with a whole grain such as whole-wheat toast or oatmeal will provide you with a good boost of energy to get your day started.
- Stop drinking your calories! Swap at least one soda for carbonated flavored water per day and you could save 100+ calories.
- Have heart-healthy nuts as a snack throughout the day. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other kinds are all a great heart-healthy substitute for cookies or chips.
- If you can, replacing red meat with fish or sea-food once a week is also good for the heart. I’m actually debating switching to a mostly veggie/pescetarian diet with a red meat allowance once a week. Let me know if you have any recommendations for making this switch! If you’ve done it, did you find it easy to switch or was it rough? I don’t think it would be too bad until I start smelling a cheeseburger or steak!
- Take some time throughout the day to breathe deeply for just a few minutes. There are a lot of great apps for guided meditation and breathing, a very popular one being Headspace. Deep breathing can help you relax if you’re stressed and may even help lower blood pressure. One of my goals this year was to start practicing meditation and breathing routines. I haven’t started yet, but no better time than today!
- This almost goes without saying, but washing your hands often helps prevent the spread of germs and diseases that can be hard on your heart such as the flu.
- Practice gratitude! Taking time throughout your day to think about all the things you are grateful for in life that fills your heart with joy can help tap into other positive emotions. Anger, worry, and hostility can contribute to higher blood pressure and heart disease, and practicing gratitude can help combat that negativity. I like to keep a gratitude log in my bullet journal, and when I move I want to make or buy signs with positive affirmations to place around the house. It’s important to remember the happy parts of life, especially when the nasty parts try to get you down!
These are just a few tips to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Proper diet, exercise, and attitude have a very strong effect on your overall well-being. Start following some of these steps to work toward a healthier lifestyle!
Do you have any simple healthy living tips to add? Let me know in the comments below!