5 Heart-Healthy Tips for American Heart Month
It may be the month of love, but it’s important to remember that there’s more than one way to look after your heart this month! When we think of February, Valentine’s Day is typically at the forefront of our minds; but this month is also American Heart Month—a time to remind people of all ages that heart disease is real, yet preventable. Below, we’ve compiled a list of heart-healthy habits to incorporate into your life if you haven’t already!
Know your risks
Staying heart healthy starts with knowing what your biggest personal risk factors are. Heart disease encompasses a wide range of issues, such as narrowed or blocked vessels, that can cause heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest, chest pain, or a stroke. Factors like high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, lack of physical activity, obesity, and poor eating habits all increase your risk of developing heart disease.
A sedentary lifestyle is a silent culprit of both obesity and heart health issues. In today’s society, many of us sit at a desk for eight or more hours a day. Frequently sitting for long periods is linked to health issues, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer, even if you’re exercising 30 minutes per day. What makes the most significant impact is ensuring that you engage in some sort of movement during the entire 15+ hours that you’re awake. Set an alarm on your phone to get up and stretch every hour. You can even do a quick lap around your office or around the block. Staying active and exercising regularly is the key to having a healthy heart for life! High-intensity cardio, like power kickboxing, is a highly beneficial workout for your heart. It can improve cholesterol levels, combat insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and melt away the excess body fat that may be narrowing your arteries.
Eat to live
Just as critical as it is to stay active, it is equally important that you are intentional with every single bite you eat. Consuming a diet full of unsaturated fats, processed foods, unhealthy carbs, high sodium, and fatty meats will significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease and a slew of other medical issues. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have your moments where you indulge periodically. Unlearning poor eating habits can be extremely difficult for many, especially if you’re trying to change your lifestyle without a support system. If you struggle with nutrition, consider signing up for a flexible program for weight loss tailored to you. This way, you can make life long changes by slowly incorporating new eating habits over time with the guidance and motivation from a certified coach. You learn so much about nutrition and discover healthier ways to prepare the foods you love.
Kick your bad habits
It’s 2020, the beginning of a new year and a new decade. Take this new chapter as an opportunity to be honest with yourself and reflect on some of the potentially negative habits you’ve developed over the previous decade that need to go. It’s okay to struggle with shredding these bad habits and doing what you need to wean yourself off -- but keeping them is not. Accountability is key: try a habit tracking app that can help keep you on track.
Manage your stress
Though stress and heart disease may not necessarily be directly related, stress does increase one’s risk of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Unfortunately, those who are chronically stressed may look for relief through habits like smoking, drinking, and overeating — all factors that can lead to heart disease.
Your overall health weighs heavily on the state of your mental health. Prioritizing some time for yourself daily is crucial (and actually do it. We don’t want it just written down in your planner and ignored). Even if it’s just five minutes, try following a yoga video or guided meditation on YouTube a few times per week to help calm your mind. Our favorite stress reliever is a good workout and being around TBC fam! If you need a good stress reliever, come visit us at any of our three locations -- your heart will thank you!
February 19, 2020