Whether it means flowers, chocolates, jewelry, or romantic dinners for 2 - Valentines day is the one-day each year that people all over the world shower those holding a special place in their hearts with love. This valentines day, show them that you want to be there for them, not just today, but for years to come. Commit to having a love affair this year, and make your heart your lover.
In the United States, one in three deaths is attributable to cardiovascular disease making this the leading cause of death and disability for Americans. The kicker is that it’s largely preventable. How, you ask? You don’t have to do anything drastic – taking small steps each day can have a profound impact on your health and quality of life. Try using American Heart Association’s “Simple 7” as your guide:
- Don’t smoke: Smoking damages your circulatory system and puts you at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. If you’ve tried quitting before without success – don’t concede to defeat. Create the perfect storm for yourself – decide to choose life if not for yourself, for those you love. There is a wealth of resources out there to support you in your journey. You don’t know how good not smoking can make you feel until you’ve quit - It won’t take long for the cravings to subside, energy levels to rise, and for you to start feeling healthier.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Two out of three Americans are overweight or obese. That puts a fair chunk of heart health at risk. Losing as little as 5-10 pounds can have a real impact your blood pressure. Losing weight starts with understanding how many calories you should intake each day. To assess your daily nutritional needs, click here.
- Engage in regular physical activity: There are so many benefits to physical activity – Not only does it help to condition your heart, a little exercise can go a long way to improving quality of life, reducing fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain and dementia. And guess what, there are ways to get moving without even thinking about it.
- Eat a healthy diet: According to the American Heart Association, a heart healthy diet means eating foods low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, and foods high in whole grain fiber, lean protein, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Not only will these foods help you prevent and battle cardiovascular disease, they’ll also help you feel better. Try to remember the principles of input/output and eat with the mindset that you’re eating for the nutrients – this can help to impact your food choices.
- Manage blood pressure: Elevated blood pressure puts a strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys; it is the single biggest risk factor for heart disease. So how do you lower your blood pressure: eat a healthier diet that is low in sodium, remain active and maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, limit drinking, and avoid smoking. Easy peasy.
- Take charge of cholesterol: When left unchecked, cholesterol can clog up your arteries and cause blockages that may lead to heart disease and stroke. Begin impacting your cholesterol by choosing to eat foods that are high in fiber, and low in cholesterol and fats. Maintain a healthy weight. And exercise – this can help boost your body’s production of good cholesterol.
- Keep blood sugar, or glucose at healthy levels: Your body turns food into glucose which becomes energy which insulin then carries cells. Over time, high blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. Through limiting simple sugars (soda, candy), getting regular physical activity, and taking medication as needed, you can reduce your blood sugar and help control the risks.
All of these tips will help you show your heart a little love and ensure that you have many more valentines’ days to share with the ones you love. What are some small things you do every day to promote heart health?