Everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day by wearing red and celebrating the heart. However, few people know that the entire month of February is Heart Month and that February 5th is National Wear Red Day. The American Heart Association created these events to raise awareness of and support for heart disease prevention and research. Heart disease is the biggest killer in the United States, and especially affects women. Heart disease and stroke together kill 1 in 3 women; however, these conditions are 80% preventable based on diet and lifestyle choices. Take a look at the following steps you can take to improve heart health this month:
Maintaining a balanced diet is perhaps the most important step to maintaining a healthy heart. Diets high in fat can lead to the development of a fat layer around the heart, which can slow its function and create the dangerous conditions that can lead to heart attack. Excessive levels of fat can also lead to blood clots, which cause stroke when blood is cut off from reaching the brain. Diets high in sodium increase blood pressure, which can also contribute to these conditions. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet by incorporating all five food groups, as well as cutting excess fat, sugar, and sodium from your meals.
Your heart is a muscle, and it needs exercise in order to function properly – which is why aerobics and other forms of exercise are so important. Walk, run, jog, ride a bicycle, go swimming, dance, do yoga, or take part in a number of activities that build up your cardiovascular health and allow you to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
One of the biggest contributors to heart disease is one that few people see – stress and the lifestyle choices that lead up to it. High stress levels cause your body to release stress hormones, which can build up in the blood and cause problems with heart disease in the long run. To decrease stress in your life, practice healthy lifestyle choices (such as getting enough sleep, thinking positively, and trying to avoid stressful situations) and engage in relaxation exercises, such as mindful meditation or yoga.
As February approaches, use the above steps to take the initiative and begin working towards a healthier heart! A great way to begin strengthening your heart is by stopping by the Summit. We have everything you need from personal training to Zumba classes to get your heart in the best shape possible!