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February is Heart Health Month.


Appropriately recognized around Valentine’s Day, Heart Health Month encourages healthy living habits to improve heart health and to decrease the risks of heart disease. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the number-one cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organization.

You can help protect yourself against cardiovascular disease by making a few simple and small changes.


Get moving: Your heart is a muscle and, as with any muscle, exercise is what strengthens it.


Quit smoking: Quitting smoking is tough. But you know that it's important to quit, and one of the biggest reasons is that it's linked to heart disease.


Lose weight: Losing weight is more than just diet and exercise. It's a personal journey that involves finding what you like and what works for you.


Eat heart-healthy foods: Salmon and guacamole are loaded with healthy fats that are good for the heart.


Don't forget the chocolate: The good news: chocolate and wine contribute to heart health. The bad news: only in moderation. Alcohol and cocoa (a key ingredient in chocolate) have antioxidants that have been shown to increase good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol and improve blood clotting function.

Don't overeat: Although this advice primarily applies during the holidays, when deaths from heart attacks spike thanks to copious amounts of food and temptation, it's valid year round.

Eating a lot of food at once leads to:

· Blood shifting from the heart to the digestive system

· Faster and irregular heart rhythms, which can lead to heart attack or heart failure


Don't stress: There are more than 1,400 biochemical responses to stress, including a rise in blood pressure and a faster heart rate. If you don't manage your stress, it can create more stress and trap you in a stress cycle.


When starting out, remember:

Any activity is good activity. When you exercise, you feel better about yourself, which leads to having more confidence. Exercise also reduces anxiety and stress and releases euphoric chemicals in the brain like endorphins and dopamine. 5 minutes is better than no minutes – don’t let anyone tell you differently.


Any change for the good is GREAT. Eating like a “saint” is impossible and truly not any fun. Food needs to be a source of fuel so that you have energy to perform in everyday life. Start small, one change at a time heading towards perhaps the 80-20 rule. If you eat well 80% of the time, it’s going to make a big difference in your life. More importantly, you won’t feel robbed by missing your favorite foods, you can eat them in the 20% time.


Be real. You are your own worst critic and worst enemy. Every day is a new day, start fresh and don’t beat yourself up for yesterday’s pitfalls. If you know you are going out for dinner or away for the weekend and won’t have access to many healthy choices, have a great week and you won’t feel guilty when you are able to enjoy!

Making healthy changes takes time. Enjoy your wins and be grateful everyday for the person you are. Life is about small steps and they should be recognized and enjoyed!


50 heart healthy eating tips!


Wanting to quit smoking:


Starting exercise:



Sources:


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