American Heart Health month started in 1963 as an annual celebration to encourage Americans to join the battle against heart disease. Are you taking care of your heart? This February, try out some of these ideas to celebrate the fight against heart disease and take some important steps toward your own heart health.
- Make red your color: Don’t just wear red on Valentine’s Day. This year National Wear Red Day is February 7th. With heart disease being the number one killer for men and women, wearing red is a great way to bring awareness or pledge that you are taking steps to a healthier you. Doing things like getting your numbers checked, not smoking, eating a well-balanced diet, and moving more are all great ways to lower your risk.
- Track your sodium: Eating a diet high in sodium can increase our risk for developing hypertension, or high blood pressure. See where you fall on the amount of sodium that you get in your diet by tracking your intake for a day or two. According to the AHA, we should not have more than about 2,300 mg of sodium per day and in some cases 1,500 mg per day if already diagnosed with high blood pressure or heart disease. Roughly, this amount fits in one teaspoon.
- Step up your movement: Are you moving enough? Sedentary behavior is a risk factor for heart disease. As adults, we should be getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. If you are tracking steps, make sure you are getting greater than 7,500 steps per day, which we consider leading an active lifestyle. If you are not quite meeting those recommendations, start a walking group among your co-workers or go for a hike with your family.
- Stress less and breathe more: There is still much to learn about stress and its effect on our heart and cardiovascular disease risk. Managing your stress though can be good for your heart and your overall health. Becoming aware of how you cope with stress can be the first step in taking action. If you are ready to try something, taking some time to practice a short breathing meditation can be useful to relieve stress and lower our heart rate and blood pressure. Try out a recording from the OSU Integrative Medicine Department.
- Load up on veggies: Cutting down on foods that are high in saturated fat can be helpful to control your cholesterol. Try to focus on bumping up your vegetable intake to replace some of these foods on your plate. Following the MyPlate, method suggests that we aim to fill half our plate with vegetables. Grab a new vegetable from the grocery and learn how to cook it with a meal next month.
If you are interested in learning more on this topic or are ready to take steps for your heart health, join Health Coach Alison, for the group coaching series Live Smart for a Healthy Heart starting on Thursday, February 6 at noon. For more ideas on how to celebrate Heart Health Month, check out the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the American Heart Association websites.