February is Heart Month: Hug Your Heart!

You may be socially distancing these days due to the pandemic, but you can always GIVE YOUR HEART A HUG by taking small steps to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Heart-healthy hugs, like eating healthy foods, exercising, monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol can help prevent heart disease and lower your risk for a heart attack.

Although some heart disease risk factors like family history can’t be controlled there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to give your heart a hug!

Conditions that lead to heart disease may begin early in life, but there are many steps you can take to hug your heart. Start by knowing your risk factors. Some like family history or being over the age of 45, are beyond your control, but there are risk factors that you can do something about.

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

Habits for Hugging Your Heart
A healthy diet is one of the best ways to avoid heart disease. Your heart will thank you if you follow these nutritional tips:

  • Include a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat fiber-rich whole grains
  • Choose low-fat dairy products
  • Eat lean meats and at least two serving per week of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, trout, herring)
  • Limit sodium to less than 1,500 mg per day
  • Watch fat and sugar intake
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Watch portion sizes

Get Moving
You can take steps and give you heart a hug! A regular exercise program helps decrease your resting heart rate and boost good cholesterol. Aim to get 30 minutes of exercise a day. Walking is a great way to get started, because it’s easy to do, inexpensive and available everywhere with no gear required. Small changes in exercise can have a big impact on cardiac wellness.

Keep Your Weight in Check
Your risk of heart disease and stroke lowers if you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Discuss your weight with your healthcare provider to make sure you are in a healthy range and determine which steps you can take to lose weight if you need to.

Sleep on It
Making sure you get a good night’s sleep (at least seven hours per night) is another small step with big payoffs for your heart health. Not getting enough sleep puts you at higher risk for heart disease.

Treat Stress and Mental Health Problems
Keep stress in check by taking time each day to relax and unwind. Get help if you have trouble coping because of depression, anxiety, or other health problems.

Know Your Numbers for Optimal Health
Talk to your healthcare provider to learn your key health numbers to keep your heart strong and healthy.

DO ONE THING: Take small steps to hug your heart, and know your numbers for optimal heart health.

SHARED DECISION MAKING: Talk to your healthcare provider about your personal heart disease risk factors, and discuss the step you can take to hug your heart.