February is American Heart Month, a month dedicated to learning about the ways to live heart-healthy lives. Check out the following steps you can take to help prevent heart disease. And remember, you must be patient and persistent as you work on making these changes in your life!
Movement is medicine. Exercising is one of the best ways to strengthen your body, and it helps guard against a number of problems like heart disease, stroke, obesity, and more.
The AHA suggests that you slowly work up to doing at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (like fast walking) each week. Which means that eventually, you’d be doing moderate physical activity for 30 minutes, five days a week. If you have less time to spare, you can try 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (like jogging) each week -- but make sure not to do too much too fast. Whether you're doing moderate or vigorous activity, you should still focus at least 2 of those days on muscle-strengthening exercises.
Organizations like the AHA and American Physical Therapy Association have a ton of ideas for people new to exercise, or for those who have taken a long break from it. Some exercises include home workouts and pool exercises.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your heart rate so you know when to back off or step it up!
Moving won’t save you from heart disease if you eat poorly every day. A healthy diet is an integral part of heart health.
The Mayo Clinic suggests the following general guidelines below:
The AHA notes the following about how smoking damages your heart:
Nicotine makes your heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket.
Carbon monoxide and tobacco rob your heart, brain, and arteries of oxygen.
It damages your blood vessels and makes your blood sticky – a recipe for blood clots.
It lowers your tolerance for physical activity and decreases HDL (good) cholesterol.
If you take oral contraceptives it increases your blood pressure and risk for stroke and heart attack.