Wherever you look, the month of February is associated with the color red and the heart symbol. But did you also know that the month of February is American Heart Month? Therefore, what better gift to give a Valentine but a commitment to a healthier lifestyle for a healthier heart?
Although Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, it does not have to be a dark and gloomy diagnosis. By starting with one new, heart-healthy behavior you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. So, let’s talk about those steps you could take:
- Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about heart health. Schedule regular checkups even when you believe you are not sick. Let your doctor be your partner to establish/set goals for improving your heart health. Do not be afraid to ask questions and trust their advice.
- Add exercise to your daily routine. Find the time of day that works best for you. Start off slow with walking maybe 15 minutes a day 3 times a week. Then within the month, increase your time by small increments, setting small goals. It will also help to listen to lively music that makes you quicken your step. Mark your exercise on your calendar or find an app on your phone to track your exercise such as May My Walk. This will help with keeping track of your time, frequency and accountability to your commitment.
- Increase healthy eating: Try decreasing your salt/sodium intake. Use other herbs and spices. Decrease the amount of times in a week that you eat fatty/greasy foods and add more fruits and vegetables. Meal Planning and journaling your food/drink intake will help to hold yourself accountable. Dieticians can be a great resource. You might even experience some weight loss too.
- Take steps to quit smoking.
- Take your medication as prescribed. Talk with your doctor about the importance of your blood pressure and cholesterol medications.
So why not make a commitment to not only your Valentine but to your own heart this month and make a few of these changes?
Janet Haynes-VP of Clinical Services
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