February is Heart Health Month and is an excellent time of year to reassess your lifestyle. Are you making good choices that lead to a healthy life? What choices are you making that are increasing your risk of heart disease? The first Heart Health month started back in 1964. During this period of time, more than half of the deaths occurring in the United States were related to cardiovascular disease. And even still to this day, cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Fortunately, we can take a stand against cardiovascular disease and other types of heart issues. As the month of February comes to a close, we can reassess our lifestyle choices and adapt them toward patterns and habits that improve the health of our hearts. Let’s take a quick look at the top five ways to improve heart health.
1) Manage Your Diabetes
No, February isn’t Diabetes Health month, but managing diabetes is key in managing the health of your heart. If you have diabetes, regardless of the type, it is pertinent that you stay on top of managing this disease; this will help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
2) Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you are already at a healthy weight for your height and age, then make sure you maintain this weight by making healthy eating choices. If you are underweight or overweight, you will want to address either issue and get to a healthy weight. Diet and exercise are excellent for losing weight. If you need to gain weight because you are underweight, it is highly recommended that you speak with a nutrition specialist about the best way to add on a few pounds.
3) Stay Physically Active
One of the best ways to improve the health of your heart is to take part in regular physical activity. Even if you aren’t exercising in an attempt to lose weight, you still need to stay physically active. This can include anything from walking at the park three times a week for 20 minutes or enjoying a nice weekend of hiking every other weekend. The key is to make whatever physical activity you are partaking in something that you do on a regular basis, preferably two to three times a month. If you can do it on a weekly basis, that’s even better.
4) Keep Your Mental Health In Check
You might not think that your mental health has much to do with your heart health, but studies actually show those who suffer from depression and other mental issues are at a higher risk for developing heart disease. Getting out and about with your friends and family on a regular basis is a great way to look after your mental health. If you feel depressed or anxious, you will want to visit a physician to see if there are any medications that can be of help.
5) Stick to Healthy Eating Patterns
Regardless of whether you are underweight, overweight, or at a healthy weight, you need to be eating healthy. Your eating habits play a large role in the health of your heart. With this in mind, you need to be eating less salt because this will help ensure you maintain healthy blood pressure. Also important is to reduce unhealthy fats with unsaturated fats; this lowers your risk of developing heart disease. And lastly, you need to limit your intake of alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol is a major contributor to heart disease.
It is pertinent that you take care of your heart as you age. The sooner you start, the better. But there’s no need to ever think that it’s too late to start taking better care of your heart health. No matter how old you are, February is a great month to reassess your lifestyle patterns and start making healthier choices.