Valentine's Day isn't the only heart-filled holiday in February — the second month of the year is also Heart Health month. And since you're (hopefully) feelin' the love post-V-Day, this is exactly the right time to take a good long look at the health of your heart.
Here's five key ways to keep it ticking stronger than ever this year:
1. Maintain A Heart-Healthy Diet (It's Good For The Rest Of Your Body, Too!).
One of the most important ways to keep that heart of yours going strong is to watch what you eat. Make sure to eat lots of whole, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, which provide your body with the vitamins and nutrients to strengthen your heart (not to mention, doing plenty of good for the rest of your body, too!). Limit your intake of refined or processed foods like cookies, crackers, and pasta, which have plenty of unwanted trans fats. The best thing way to eat healthy though is to slash those saturated fats, which are typically found in meat and full-fat dairy products. Choose those leaner cuts and reduced-fat options out there. Check out our healthy cooking shows like Hemsley + Hemsley and Healthy Gourmet to learn how to make health-conscious meals for you and your family. Find out where to watch.
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2. Get Active (Or Stay Active!)
Staying active can be hard, but even simple regular activities like taking a walk for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, will all reduce your risk of heart disease. Any moderate exercise that gets you movin' is great for not only your heart, but your mind too. The best way to do this is to monitor how much time throughout the day you are sitting or not moving. Break this habit by walking when doing normal tasks such as talking on the phone or listening to music.
3. Take Care To Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle, Overall.
Always check with your doctor yearly to determine if you’re at the proper weight for your height and body type, and he or she will likely advise you on healthy heart habits. Of course, changing your eating habits and exercise can help with any weight loss goals, but there are more important things to consider. “Emotional eating” is common among people looking for stress relief or some sort of comfort, which is why it is so crucial to to figure out other ways to curb those bad habits. Spend time and confide in people you are close to while enjoying their company. Turns out this simple act is great for your heart and overall emotional health. Check out our addictive new show Altar’d, which challenges couples to lose weight 90 days before their wedding day — with the added twist of doing it completely separately, revealing their transformations only when they meet at the altar. Find out where to watch.
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4. Be Aware Of Your Cholesterol Levels And Blood Pressure.
When your blood pressure gets too high, its much harder for blood and oxygen to get to and from your heart…which means your heart has to work harder, and, like any overworked muscle, may wear out faster. This also applies to your cholesterol levels, meaning you have to keep an eye on them and take your doctor’s advice on what will keep you in good shape. All those processed foods with trans fats can cause serious cholesterol issues, so make sure you're checking your levels yearly, at least.
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5. Cut Out The Smoking Already! And Cut Wa-y-y-y Down On Drinking.
Its fairly obvious as smoking cigarettes, and even secondhand smoke, are bad for your heart. There are many solutions out there to quit smoking and your heart will thank you later for it. It is also a good idea to not hang around people who tend to smoke to not only avoid temptation, but keeping your body clean from secondhand effects. Drinking is not necessarily a bad thing, but limiting your alcohol consumption will be beneficial to your heart health in the long run. Too much alcohol will slow your heart rate and affect your blood pressure. If you like to drink (and there's nothing wrong with indulging in a glass or two!), take care to drink in moderation. In our show Change The Day You Die, experts help individuals rewrite their future and live a much healthier life. Find out where to watch.