Love your Heart this February
February 01, 2024
February is American Heart Month, a time to show yours some love. Your hard-working heart beats an average of 100,000 times every day. Making small changes in diet, exercise, and self-care can offer huge health benefits over time.
The American Heart Association offers Life’s Essential: Your Checklist for Lifelong Good Health.
These are tips on health behaviors for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, which will help lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other major health problems. These include:
- Quit Tobacco: Use of inhaled nicotine, whether cigarettes or vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, including about a third of all deaths from heart disease. Let Tobacco Free Florida help you quit your way.
- Be More Active: Adults should get 2 ½ hours of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Kids should have 60 minutes each day of play and structured activities. Walking is a great way to get started, and Pinellas County has a network of trails for you to get your steps.
- Eat Better: Include whole foods, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and non-tropical cooking oils, like olive or canola oil. Healthy eating is a key ingredient in your overall wellbeing.
- Get Enough Sleep: Adults need 7-9 hours per night. Children require more: 10- 16 hours for ages 5 and younger, including naps; 9-12 hours for ages 6-12; and 8-10 hours for ages 13-18. Adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
- Manage Weight: Keeping a healthy weight has many benefits and puts less strain on your heart. Florida’s Healthiest Weight program offers tips and suggestions about how to get to your ideal weight.
- Control Cholesterol: High levels of non-HDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Learn how to manage your cholesterol levels to protect your heart health.
- Manage Blood Sugar: Most of the food we eat becomes glucose (blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart. Preventing certain forms of diabetes is something you can handle.
- Manage Blood Pressure: As your heart pumps blood, it puts pressure on the arteries in your body. Normal blood pressure is healthy, but high blood pressure can cause health concerns, including heart attacks. Many times, high blood pressure has no symptoms, so it must be closely monitored.
It is always a good idea to speak with a doctor or other healthcare provider to check on your heart’s health and make any changes early.