Boost Your Heart Health for American Heart Month

In addition to Valentine’s Day, February also celebrates heart health awareness. This American Heart Month, find out how to love your heart by reducing your risk of heart disease. Although heart disease is prominent throughout the country, we can take steps to improve our heart health and live happier, healthier lives. American Heart Month is the perfect time to start giving your heart more love – whether you have you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or would like to incorporate more nutrients into your diet, heart health is something that everyone should be conscious of.

7 Ways to Love Your Heart This February 

1. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet 

Your body requires nutrients and minerals to help your body’s hardest-working organ, your heart, pump as smoothly as possible. Thankfully, your diet is an aspect of your life that you can control every day. Your heart will thank you when you add more nutrient-dense foods to your diet. These foods are usually high in protein and essential vitamins and low in calories, unhealthy fats and cholesterol, like red meat, fried foods, foods high in sugar and fast food. Try incorporating more meals and snacks with the following fresh ingredients into your daily meals instead: 

  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Healthy Fats (avocado, nuts and olive oil)
  • Fruits
  • Poultry
  • Low-Fat Dairy Products

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight 

The risk of heart disease and other complications, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure increases when a person is overweight. If you aren’t sure if you are overweight or not, you can calculate your BMI, which determines your body fat percentage based on your height and weight. If you are overweight, don’t worry – there are many simple ways that you can get back on track to reduce your risk of heart disease (and feel better!) A simple change of diet and new fitness routine can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Even a weight decrease of three to five percent can help!

3. Sweat It Out 

Staying active is an excellent way to boost your heart health and overall well-being. From gaining strength, to reducing stress, to sustaining a healthy weight, exercise gives your body, especially your heart, a dose of love every time you sweat. Mayo Clinic experts recommend thirty minutes of aerobic exercise on most days, which can include jumping rope, swimming, walking at a brisk pace, walking your pet and walking up flights of stairs. Daily exercise doesn’t have to mean vigorous cardio workouts every day, but your heart will reap more benefits as you increase the duration and intensity of your workouts. Check out these workout options for all ages from the American Heart Association!

4. Get Enough Sleep 

Did you know that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night? Are you getting enough z’s? Lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart disease by raising blood pressure levels, aiding in depression and promoting obesity. Simply put, humans are meant to rest to function mentally, physically and emotionally properly. If you have trouble sleeping or need to incorporate more sleep, sleep hygiene can help you tremendously. What is sleep hygiene?

  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day – even on weekends!
  • Sleeping in a pleasant environment that promotes relaxation. Sound machines, humidifiers, essential oils and fans can help you calm down after a stressful day.
  • Avoiding caffeine after 3:00 p.m. An afternoon cup of joe can keep you alert late into the night.
  • Avoiding fattening foods before bedtime.

5. Don’t Smoke 

Did you know that smoking causes one in five deaths per year in the United States? Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in our country! Cigarettes are full of harmful chemicals, like carbon monoxide, that impair the functionality of the heart, requiring smokers’ organs to work much harder. This can result in coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease and many other health issues. Smoking is never safe and can easily be avoided to protect your heart and lungs.

6. Say No to Stress

 Life can be stressful. From demanding careers to nonstop obligations, Americans are busy people. However, amidst the chaos, try to reduce your stress levels as much as possible. Chronic, ongoing stress can lead to a weakened immune system, damaged artery walls and high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease. Remind yourself to cope with stress in healthy ways through relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, journaling and aromatherapy. Exercise also helps you let go of unwanted stress and releases endorphins to boost your mood (yoga is a wonderful option for stress relief!) Overall, happy people indeed are healthier. Did you know that laughing can even improve your health?

7. Schedule Regular Health Screenings 

You may not know if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels without getting routine health screenings. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage and weaken your heart, so it’s critical to stay aware of your body’s functionality. Physicians check your blood pressure each time that you visit a doctor’s office, but sometimes this isn’t enough. Schedule annual physical exams to make sure that you’re healthy and to catch any heart health issues before they become prominent.

Now that you’re ready to start a heart-healthy life, are you protecting yourself with reliable health insurance? VelaPoint Insurance can help you find quality health care that could pay for health screenings as recommended by your doctor to stay heart-healthy all year! To learn more about heart health and affordable health insurance, chat with a friendly VelaPoint Insurance agent today! Call 855-548-0727 to learn more!