February is the month we celebrate all things love and romance. However, heart disease remains the number one leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 2,000 people die of heart failure and cardiovascular disease every single day.
According to the American Heart Association, the number of Americans at risk for strokes and heart attacks has continued to increase, and more than 100 million adults in the U.S. already have high blood pressure.
Here are 14 ways to LOVE your heart:
1. Take the stairs: Climbing steps is a great way to increase your heartrate, thereby strengthening your heart muscle as well as your leg muscles.
2. Dance: Anywhere and everywhere the mood strikes your fancy. And you don’t need any skill – you just gotta move to get that heart rate up!
3. Make beautiful music: Playing (or listening to) music by yourself or with your special “love interest” is a wonderful way to relax, potentially lowering your blood pressure and anxiety.
4. Cuddle up for a nap: Remember naptime? Dozing for 45 minutes after a draining or stressful day can help lower your blood pressure.
5. Embrace happy thoughts: Finding a way to subdue negative, angry, depressed feelings is key in controlling blood pressure. In some cases, stress, or negative emotional expression, is as bad on the heart as smoking.
6. Make friends with fiber: Consuming heart-healthy fiber every day can help reduce your risk for heart disease.
7. Toss the salt: Too much sodium is a direct link to high blood pressure.
8. Cherish the fish: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, eating salmon at least one-two times per week can help lower your risk for heart disease.
9. Delight in dark chocolate: Dark chocolate is a great source of heart-healthy anti-oxidants.
10. Nix the sweets: Sugars can increase inflammation levels, which in turn can increase the risk for heart problems.
11. Smile...at your dentist: Healthy teeth and gums, regularly cleaned by a dental professional, has been linked to a substantially reduced risk of developing coronary diseases.
12. Listen to your heart: Learn the symptoms of heart attack - these include a squeezing sensation or pressure in the chest, nausea, and shortness of breath. Women sometimes experience pain in their back, arms, or teeth.
13. Get to know your blood pressure & cholesterol: High blood pressure and cholesterol increase your likelihood of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
14. Keep diabetes at arm’s length: If you have diabetes already, you must be vigilant in checking your blood pressure and administering your medication as instructed by your doctor. If you are at risk for diabetes, changing your diet and adopting healthy living practices can help keep diabetes at bay. (If you would like to learn about our Y Diabetes Prevention Program [or a financial aid scholarship to participate], visit www.ymcabham.org/diabetesprevention.)
15. Are You Ready to Get Serious? If you’re concerned about your heart health and would like to make some meaningful lifestyle changes, you may be interested in our Diabetes Prevention Program, Blood Pressure Management Program or our Healthy Cooking Classes. Contact Keesha Nelson at (205) 801-7224 for details.
For American Heart Month – and your own heart – start pursuing better health today. Take good care of your heart! It’s a lifelong commitment. #HeartHealth #LiveLong #LoveYourHeart
MISSION: To put Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.
VISION: We will lead our community to become the healthiest in America.
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