February is National Heart Health Month
It is important to always take care of our bodies, especially our hearts. Each February, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute celebrate American Heart Month by motivating Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease. Focusing on your heart health has never been more important.
The lifestyle that you live directly determines your risk factors for developing problems later in life. So, knowing what your risk factors are and doing something about it are the best things you could do for your heart.
Smoking– Smoking will dramatically increase your risk of heart disease. Even light smokers, 1 to 10 cigarettes a day, have a 3 times greater risk than those who don’t smoke. There are plenty of programs, support groups and products available to help you or someone you love quit the habit. Always remember that it’s never too late to quit.
Physical Activity– Exercising is extremely important in battling heart disease. As little as 30 minutes of exercise a day can decrease your risk. Studies have shown that people who engage in moderate physical activity lived on average 1.5 – 2 years longer than someone who was sedentary. That number increases to almost 4 years for people who exercise at a higher or more vigorous level. So do your best to exercise for 30, 45 even 60 minutes most days of the week. Do anything that elevates your heart rate. Things such as walking, jogging, swimming, gardening or housework all count. What is important is to just get moving.
Body Mass Index– BMI is a measure of height and weight. There are BMI measurement tools online that can help one calculate their BMI. Health risks increase when your BMI is over 25.
Heart Healthy Diet– There are several dietary factors that have been found to decrease your risk of coronary artery disease. One of these factors is having a low intake of saturated and trans-fats. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products and trans-fats are found in hydrogenated oils. Other factors are increasing one’s intake of fiber, which is found in whole grains, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also try to keep your intake of sugars and refined grains low. When you sit down to lunch and dinner, have a colorful plate – lots of vegetables, brown rice, some lean protein like chicken or fish and fruit for dessert.
Starting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Many people think they need to change everything all at once. Instead, incorporate one item per day to start a heart-healthy lifestyle:
Self Care Sunday – create a self-care checklist for the week. Do you want to incorporate exercise at three times this week? Increase your water consumption?
Mindful Monday – know your blood pressure numbers and other heart stats
Tasty Tuesday – try a tasty, heart-healthy recipe
Wellness Wednesday – put your heart into your wellness routine and get moving! Remember the wellness opportunities available to you at Cornwall Manor including the fitness center, pool and therapeutic spa, outdoor walking trails, Lebanon Valley Rail Trail and indoor walking routes through buildings.
Treat Yourself Thursday – treat your heart to some relaxation and fun. Think dark chocolate!
Follow Friday – who inspires you to take care of your heart? Follow those who make you happy and share the same heart-healthy ideas as you. Maybe a walking buddy, a friend or neighbor.
Selfie Saturday – Take a day of self-reflection. Focus on a great week of accomplishments and be proud of yourself! You are taking small steps to take care of yourself and your heart and those will add up.