Heart Month: Keep Your Heart Healthy and Happy

The month of February is dedicated as American Heart Month. How can you keep your heart healthy and happy? Let’s find out…

Be Heart SMART

Your heart is about the size of a closed fist. It is the main organ of your circulatory system located in your chest, slightly to the left of center. It is important to keep in mind that your heart is central to keeping your whole body in good working order. To keep your heart healthy and happy, you need to be heart smart. 

Get Your Heart Healthy Sleep

Have you ever heard someone say, “I need my beauty rest,” or “I have a big day tomorrow, so I better get some sleep.”

It’s easy to connect sleep with looking good and needing better energy, but it’s also important to note that sleep is critical for keeping your heart healthy too. According to the CDC, “Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night.” Not getting enough sleep over time can lead to serious health problems like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Work on building better sleep habits.

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time everyday (even on the weekends).
  • Avoid exercising, eating, or drinking within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet (use a sound machine if needed).
  • Don’t keep your smart phone next to your bed – or at the very least, put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb Mode’ during sleeping hours.

Build Heart Healthy Eating Habits

“A healthy diet can help protect the heart, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.” Along with keeping a healthy diet, you also want to build healthy eating habits. 

  • Choose a smaller plate to bring to the dinner table to help control your portions.
  • Choose to eat fruits and vegetables as your side items over French fries and potato chips.
  • Try not to eat dinner or snacks up to two hours before bedtime.
  • Replace your sweet drinks with a tall glass of water.
  • Take time to plan out healthy meals ahead of time and then try to stick with your plans as best as you can.

Give Your Heart Some Healthy Exercise

To exercise and strengthen your arms and legs, you need to get them moving. The same holds true for your heart. To exercise your heart, you need to get your heart muscle pumping. Here are some ways to boost heart health.

  • Experts recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week (about 30 minutes per day). Aerobic exercises include movements such as taking a brisk walk, running, swimming, playing tennis, jumping rope.
  • Flexibility workouts may not directly help heart function but stretching and balancing regularly can help keep your body in good condition so you can keep your body moving.
  • Resistance training, working out with weights or resistance bands for example, can help keep reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass.

Being heart smart, as described in this article, may seem overwhelming, but I am willing to bet you are already doing some pretty heart smart things. You just need to continue adding new healthy heart habits one step and one day at a time to your daily routines.

Regular Healthy Heart Checkups

Don’t forget your health and wellness checkups. While there, ask your doctor to explain terms like heart rate and pulse so that you can understand what they mean to you.

Start a Heart Smart Journal Today!

Write down one very simple thing you can do today to help your heart stay happy and healthy. Then tomorrow, write down one more simple thing you can do. Keep adding something to your journal every day. What is that one small thing you can do today?

Learn More!

What wasn’t discussed in today’s article is the importance of not smoking. Learn more about why smoking is still the most common cause of heart and lung disease.

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