Traditionally, heart disease has been considered one that affects men primarily, but the reality is heart disease affects men and women in the same proportions. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. February is heart month, so what better time could there be to shower yourself with love and commit to a more heart-healthy lifestyle? Here are some ways you can show your heart the love this month!
FOOD Although most of us know we should eat healthier, we convince ourselves we are too busy to invest the time required in planning and preparing healthy meals. It’s time to change that mind-set. There are thousands of delicious, heart-healthy recipes out there you can prepare quickly and easily. Our heart-healthy Caprese salad recipe, for example, takes only five minutes to make and will no doubt become a favorite for lunch. A quick online search will provide thousands of heart-healthy recipes for you to explore. Try adding one or two into your cooking rotation each week. You’ll see eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore and probably find some new favorite foods.
EXERCISE Exercise is another area where most of us know what we should be doing but fall short in the execution. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise five times per week to improve cardiovascular health. Many of us get caught up in thinking we have to join an expensive gym or go for a five-mile run for our workout to count as exercise. In reality, exercise is anything that makes you move your body and burns calories. If you’re not ready to sign up for a gym membership, search for ways you can add extra movement to your daily routine. You could dance around the house while vacuuming. Make a couple of extra trips up and down the stairs when you’re doing laundry. Anything activity adding extra movement to your life will be good for your heart.
HEALTHY HABITS Habits such as smoking and drinking excessively can increase your risk of complications from heart disease, especially if you have any other conditions, such as diabetes or high cholesterol. To protect your heart, you should stop smoking and drink alcohol only in moderation. For women, it is recommended to have no more than one drink per day. Once you change an unhealthy habit such as smoking, your body immediately begins the process of healing any damage inflicted. Give yourself the gift of health this Valentine’s Day and take steps to eliminate any of these damaging habits from your life.
SLEEP Sleep is another critical factor in maintaining good heart health. Sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality can lead to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, fatigue and metabolic problems. Getting the right amount of high-quality sleep is essential to your overall health and is a key factor in keeping your heart healthy. If you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, you should try reducing your caffeine intake and establishing an evening routine that includes going to bed at the same time every night and eliminates the use of any electronic devices, including cell phones, tablets and television close to bedtime. It’s important we demonstrate some self-love by taking extra good care of ourselves as women. Practicing good heart health habits will ensure you have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life! Also, check out our red bands this month and wear red for heart month!
About the Author: LaToya is an advocate for healthy living. She enjoys cooking up tasty, nutritious recipes and regularly practices yoga and Pilates. As a writer for eHealth Informer, she loves sharing her knowledge and inspiring others to live healthier lifestyles.Continue reading