President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed a proclamation in 1964 designating February as American Heart Month. It’s been more than 50 years, and the statistics prove that the program is working. In 1964, about 924,000 Americans died from cardiovascular diseases. In 2010, those numbers were 784,000, which looks pretty good on the surface, but when you consider that the population increased, it paints an even better picture. In honor of American Heart Month, here are 6 tips to help you take care of your heart.
There are many ways to increase how much you move. Take a dance class or take up a sport you’ve always wanted to try. Ask a friend to sign up with you. Or, just think about increasing your own movement. Park farther away from the office or store. Every 60 to 90 minutes at your desk or watching television, get up and walk around.
Make better choices with your food. Select leaner cuts of meat, or use olive oil instead of butter to cook with. Switch to whole grains, and enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Lower the amount of sodium in your diet by eating less processed food.
It’s not just tobacco that increases the risk of heart disease, but marijuana, cigars, and hookah, all are damaging to your cardiovascular system. Protect yourself and your kids from secondhand smoke. Ventilation, filters, and open windows are not effective methods of prevention.
Reduce your stress
Stress increases adrenaline which can overwork the heart. You should take time every day to meditate, pray, or relax to give your heart a break. Interestingly, exercise teaches your body how to respond to stress. Take that yoga class or learn Krav Maga, which can be adapted to your limitations. Not only do you get a workout, but you’ll feel more confident when you’re in a dangerous situation.
Get enough sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends six to eight hours of sleep every night to reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Although science does not completely understand why this is true, research shows that people who sleep less than six hours a night increase their risk of having heart problems. When you’re asleep, your heart rate and blood pressure are lower, which lets your body recover.
Know your family’s history
Genetics play a big role in your risk of cardiovascular diseases. If possible, find out your family’s health and talk to your own doctor. Although genetic testing is a few years off, by knowing the issues in your family, you can detect certain conditions which raise your risk of heart problems.
Heart health isn’t just for senior citizens. Everyone should take time this month to make changes to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Even kids should be taught how to stay healthy. Habits learned early in life follow them through as adults.
Posted in: Fitness Hacks