February is National Heart Health month. Did you know that heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women and is responsible for over 1 million deaths annually? Don’t panic, there are some things you can do to help prevent heart disease and keep your ticker in tip-top shape.
- Get Regular Check-ups – High blood pressure and cholesterol are major risk factors for heart disease. Keep yourself informed about your levels, adjust your lifestyle to help keep your levels in a safe range, and avoid foods heavy in saturated fats.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight – We are not talking about being “swimsuit ready”. Obesity is linked to many other health factors which can lead to heart disease including high triglyceride levels. Maintain a healthy weight and especially avoid extra weight around the belly/mid-torso area.
- Limit Alcohol and Smoking – Overconsumption of either of these will increase you blood pressure and ultimately increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Studies suggest no more than 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women.
- Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet – Avoid foods high in saturated fat, foods with high sodium levels, processed foods, and sugar. Whole foods should make up the bulk of your diet with fresh vegetables being the star at every meal. Balance your plate with a fat, protein, and carb at every meal.
- Exercise Regularly – You don’t need to be a marathon runner, you just need to move every day. Try my at-home beginner’s workout or my beginners HIIT workout to start. Exercise helps strengthen the heart and improve circulation.
- Get Your Sleep – Lack of sleep comes with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Start creating better habits to get more sleep. Check out my post on sleep for ideas on how to set yourself up for a more restful and restorative sleep session.
- Manage Stress – High stress levels can lead to high blood pressure and high cortisol levels. Those high cortisol levels can lead to an increase of belly fat. Take time out of everyday to breathe, calm yourself down, and relax. Even 2 minutes of deep breathing can help interrupt the stress cycle.
- Know Your Risk – Get clear on your family health history and your genetic risk. Be proactive in the care of your body, don’t make it a guessing game.
Healthy hearts equal healthy bodies. The great “side-effects” of taking care of your heart are weight-loss, clearer skin, more energy, less aches and pains, and more. Improving your diet, moving everyday, and taking some time for yourself can have lasting results that will not only improve your heart function, but improve your overall health.