February is American Heart Month, and it is a great time to assess your heart-healthy lifestyle. We know that more than 80% of cardiovascular disease can be prevented through lifestyle modification. So, to modify your risk for cardiovascular disease, focus on three things: regular exercise, a heart-healthy eating plan, and a healthy mindset. For each component, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make right for now during American Heart Month.
3 Components of a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
Regular exercise is a key component of heart health. If you are not exercising regularly, choose an activity you enjoy and (with physician approval) begin slowly. Aim to exercise 5 to 7 days per week, with no more than one day in between exercise sessions. Do not focus solely on cardiovascular exercise – strength training and flexibility are important too!
When it comes to heart-healthy eating, first take a look inside your refrigerator and pantry. Do you see lots of highly processed foods such as canned soups, snack chips, cookies, or lunch meats? Foods like these are high in added salt, added sugar, and saturated fat. In contrast, a heart-healthy diet focuses on whole, minimally-processed foods, including unrefined, complex carbohydrates like beans, peas, legumes, and whole grains. And be sure to include a wide variety of whole fruits and vegetables for the fiber and satisfying fullness they provide. Also include non-fat, unsweetened dairy, and small amounts of lean meats and fish.
Is life stressing you out these days? A healthy mindset is a key component of heart health. Learning to recognize and manage stress is a positive way to take care of your heart (and soul). And connections with others play a big role as well. Find creative ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones if you cannot be together in person right now.
Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
A heart-healthy lifestyle is essential when it comes to reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
By focusing on regular exercise, a heart-healthy diet, and a healthy mindset during American Heart Month this February, you will be well on your way to a healthier 2021!
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