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February is American Heart Month: Here’s What That Means

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February is American Heart Month: Here’s What That Means

Being conscious of our health and the health of our loved ones is a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Let’s get ready to celebrate American Heart Month this February.

It’s of utmost importance to attend regular check-ups with your family doctor or at your family clinic. Do not make any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine without the prior approval of your doctor.

Take a few minutes this February to assess your overall heart health and the health of your loved ones, especially seniors.

If you or your loved one hasn’t seen a doctor for a routine physical in more than a year, go ahead and schedule one! Be sure to ask about any health issues you may be curious about.

Let’s reveal our top ways to celebrate American Heart Month:

A colorful blend of fruits and vegetables on a wooden table - a composition of carrots, pomegranates, strawberries, avocados, mushrooms, oranges, and more!

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Your heart operates to keep your blood flowing throughout your body and the blood carries nutrients to all of your vital organs.

Keeping your cholesterol levels low and maintaining a healthy weight allow your heart to pump your blood with ease.

Bad Cholesterol (LDL) can damage your arteries and make your heart have to work harder to maintain a healthy blood flow.

Similarly, being overweight can contribute to a build up of unhealthy fats that also damage the arteries and put added stress on your heart.

Maintaining a healthy diet to contribute to a healthy weight and acceptable cholesterol levels is a great way to keep you and your loved one’s hearts healthy. This February for American Heart Month, make sure you are recognizing easy ways to regulate diet and cholesterol.

Here are some great ways to regulate your diet for optimal heart health:

  • Reduce your intake of saturated fat.

Saturated fat raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods (all the good stuff). We know it’s hard to say no to all of these great foods, but try to limit your daily intake of bad fats!

  • Reduce your intake of trans fat.

Trans fat is another bad fat that also raises your LDL (and lowers your HDL, the good cholesterol). It is found mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries. Keep an eye out for these fats and keep them out of your daily diet.

  • Increase your intake of healthy fats.

Healthy fats are found in lean meats, nuts, and unsaturated oils (canola, olive, avocado, and sunflower oils for example).

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Try to eat more soluble fibers

Soluble fibers are found in foods such as whole grain cereals like oatmeal and fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, prunes, and pears. Legumes including lima beans, chickpeas, black-yed peas, lentils, and kidney beans are also good soluble fiber food choices.

  • Minimize your intake of high cholesterol containing foods such as egg yolks, whole dairy products, shrimp, liver and other animal organ meats.
  • Stay within your required daily calorie count. Most adults should aim to consume an average of 2000 calories a day. Try to eat well-balanced meals and snacks for the day that include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink enough water. The average adult should drink a little less than a gallon of water each day! Keep your water bottle full and close-by all day.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol. Try to stick to no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and two alcoholic drinks per day for men.

Follow these dietary recommendations and let you and your loved one’s health take centerstage this February for American Heart Month!

Do Your Exercises

Keep all of your body’s muscles (including your heart muscle) in their best condition by exercising them!

Do you currently have an exercise routine? If so, be sure to get in all of your exercise this February to celebrate American Heart Month.

If you are beginning a more strenuous exercise plan or are beginning a new exercise plan, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning.

There are so many great ways to exercise, many of which are low-impact to joints like ankles, knees, and hips and great for all ages especially seniors. Have you ever tried water aerobics? What about walking every day?

Engaging in low-impact activities are great ways to stay in shape. Other low-impact exercise choices are yoga, cycling, swimming, and dancing. All of these choices are great tips for senior heart health.

Try to make an exercise schedule that fits with your weekly work schedule and personal life. Do low-impact exercises and give your muscles (including your heart) the physical movement they need!

Women facing away from the camera performing yoga poses on their knees, arms extended.

3. Say Goodbye to Stress

Take a stress inventory this February for American Heart Month and improve your overall heart health.

Perhaps the simplest way to de-stress, is to be mindful of your work schedule — Don’t overwork yourself!

Keeping your work hours to a manageable number and being sure to take enough personal time for the day and week will help you to maintain a healthy stress level. When you are working, take a few 10-minute to 15-minute breaks to stop working, go outside and take a walk or sit down with a pair of noise canceling headphones to retreat from the workplace.

Having a short time to stretch, meditate, and clear our heads is a great way to help keep our bodies feeling less stressed! Find time for inspiration, meditation, and relaxation.

Saving a short meditative recording on your phone or tablet is a great way to take a quick break. Simply close your eyes, press play, and breathe.

We have to get enough sleep to maintain our health, lessen our stress, and be our best! Try to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Make an effort to relax before bed and be sure to pay attention to your body’s internal rhythm — try to sleep when you feel tired or worn out.

Don’t push yourself past your limits and follow these tips for overall health and senior heart health. Rest when you need to and practice stress reducing techniques this American Heart Month!

A group of three senior age friends playing chess in the park

We hope you are ready to have a great February full of fun while you celebrate American Heart Month.

Staying conscious of our minds and bodies will keep us in top shape. Maintain a healthy diet, reduce your stress levels, and get plenty of exercise to show your heart and the hearts of your loved ones all of the love they deserve!

Be sure you and our loved ones are taking great care of your hearts and minds this February.

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