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5 Ways To Show Love To Your Heart

February 13, 2023

Celebrating American Heart Month 2023

February isn’t all heart-shaped chocolates and heartfelt gestures— it’s also a time to show some love to your own heart! During American Heart Month, the topic of conversation is cardiovascular health. There is so much we can’t control in life, yet, we do have a say when it comes to our cardiovascular health. A healthy heart starts with healthy lifestyle choices. Keep reading for five ways you can take care of your heart this month and every month. ↴

1. Move Your Body

Exercise is an essential component of a healthy life, both physically and mentally. So, how much exercise do you need to reap the rewards? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends two and a half hours of physical activity each week, broken into five 30-minute sessions.

Everyday life gets busy, and it can be hard to find the time to exercise. The AHA shared these seven ways to sneak regular exercise into your busy days.

2. Minimize Stress

Stress shows up in many areas of our lives— whether you’re buying your first home, starting a new job, or taking on extra tasks at work, it’s important to know how to manage stress to protect your heart health and overall wellness. Here are some tips to help manage stress:

  • Get some exercise
  • Try out meditation
  • Practice gratitude
  • Learn deep-breathing techniques
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Find or revisit a hobby to distract your mind
  • Make time for rest (make resting a sustainable practice instead of treating it as a reward or last resort after burning out!)

Eat more:

  • Leafy greens
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy and dairy alternatives
  • High-protein foods like eggs, fish, lean meats, and beans
  • Foods with “good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats)
  • Avocados
  • Vegetable and seed-based oils (Olive, Avocado, Sunflower, etc.)
  • Nut/seed butter
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Tofu

Eat less:

  • High sodium foods
  • Highly processed foods
  • Saturated fats
  • Added sugars
  • Caffeine

Reading food labels, eating at home more, limiting pre-made meals or ingredients, and other lifestyle changes can help support a heart-healthy diet as well. Check out this article for more on heart-healthy eating, and save these heart-healthy recipes to get started!

Note: Eating heart-healthy foods and being on a cardiac diet are very different. Be sure to discuss any dietary changes with your doctor before making them.

3. Eat Heart-Healthy Foods

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute tells us that heart-healthy eating means limiting foods that negatively impact your heart health and eating more foods that support it (simple concept, right?)

4. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep. It’s an essential process that, if uncared for, has a detrimental effect on our mental and physical health. Yet, between 50 and 70 million people suffer from sleep issues in the US each year. Problems with sleep are linked to weight issues, inflammation, diabetes, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke— all dire consequences for something many of us neglect or can’t seem to get quite right. You can improve your sleep regime by:

Establishing and sticking to a bedtime and morning routine
Avoiding caffeine and sugar before bed
Avoiding eating within two hours of bedtime
Sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet room
Discussing sleep issues with your doctor

5. Keep Up with Doctor’s Appointments

When it comes to your health, the most important thing you can do is talk to your doctor. Excluding health issues, illnesses, and people on medications that require monitoring, people under the age of 50 should see their doctor every 2-3 years, while people over 50 should go at least once a year.

If you’re experiencing health issues or want to understand your risk of cardiovascular disease, seeking guidance from your primary care physician should be your first step! They can direct you to a cardiologist or other specialist related to your health concerns. Remember, their job is to help you live a happy, healthy life!

We know this is all easier said than done. Balancing work, family, chores, friends, hobbies, and all the other areasof life can make it challenging to focus on your health. Thankfully, small changes can make a big difference. Take this month to figure out how to find movement, reduce stress, eat healthily, get some sleep, and stay on top of doctor’s appointments. Then, see how that can all fit in with your busy life throughout the year. Your heart, health, older self, and loved ones will thank you! And don’t forget to celebrate all the other heart-shaped fun this time of year— Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy American Heart Month to you.

Further Reading & Resources ↴

Cardiovascular exercise

Impact of stress on heart health

Heart-healthy diets

Heart-healthy recipes

Sleep for heart health

Talking cardiac health with your doctor

Finding a cardiologist

Cardiovascular disease risk factors

Cardiac emergency first aid

About CPR

Get CPR certified

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – NIH

National institution dedicated to research, training, and education on heart, lung, and blood health to support health longevity for all.

The Heart Truth – NIH

Federally-funded educational program raising awareness of heart disease as the leading cause of death for women.

American Heart Association (AHA)

United States’ oldest and largest volunteer organization dedicated to the fight against heart disease and stroke.

CDC – Heart Disease

Nation’s largest science-backed and data-based organization focused on improving and promoting public health.

Million Hearts

National initiative co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services with a mission to prevent one million cardiovascular-related deaths by 2027.

Careers at GHR

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