February is American Heart Health. Focus on the small, easy-to-achieve ways to improve heart health: Take a 10 minute walk, eat one extra fruit and vegetable a day, eat a heart healthy breakfast, cut out at least one sugary or high-calorie drink a day, practice deep breathing, wash hands often.
February is American Heart Health month, and the month serves as a great jumpstart for a full year of heart healthy living. Improving your heart health doesn’t have to come with big life changes and huge dietary shifts. There are small, simple ways to improve your heart health, starting today.
Take a 10 Minute Walk
A short, brisk walk—one that gets your heart rate up even slightly—can drastically improve your health over time. If you work at a desk all day, stay at home, or don’t have the time or resources for a gym membership, you may be more sedentary than your body needs. In fact, studies show that sitting for six hours a day versus three hours a day can drastically increase your risk for heart disease, among other issues.
So, get moving. Start with a 10 minute walk at a relatively fast pace. You can do this around your neighborhood, or at a nearby park. The activity is free and is something that the whole family can join in on.
Eat One Extra Fruit and Vegetable a Day
Yes, you should eat your greens; but eating a daily diet of fiber and nutrient rich fruits and vegetables isn’t always attainable—especially if your body is used to a diet of fast food, freezer meals or carry out. So, start by just adding one extra fruit and vegetable a day to your diet.
A great way to add an extra fruit and vegetable to your diet per day is to start with breakfast. If you knock the addition out early, you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. Plus, the hearty breakfast will help you kickstart your morning in a healthy way.
Eat a Hearty Breakfast
Speaking of adding veggies to your morning, a hearty breakfast is a great, simple way to improve your heart health. Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast in the morning not only jumpstarts your digestive system, but it helps you maintain a healthier weight. Plus, studies show that those who eat breakfast every day lower their risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Cut Out At Least One Sugary Drink Per Day
Americans, on average, ingest roughly 42.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. A diet that’s high in sugar not only puts you at risk for diabetes, but it also puts you at risk for heart disease because of the extra strain added to your heart. There are plenty of ways to cut out sugar in your day-to-day diet, but a simple way to start improving is by swapping one sugary drink each day with water. Whether you’re a sweet tea fanatic or love reaching for your favorite soda, the sugar and calories tend to add up over time.
Practice Deep Breathing
Mindfulness and self care have popped up in a lot of conversations around mental health and ways we can take care of ourselves better. More than just a trend, the idea of mindfulness is deeply rooted in being more present and aware of what’s going on in the moment, coupled with breathing techniques to get you through the more stressful times. Each day, take at least 5 minutes to sit quietly and focus on deep, steady breathing.
Wash Hands Often
Especially during flu and cold seasons, washing your hands is vital to taking care of your heart health. Illnesses like the flu and pneumonia tend to put a strain on the heart as it fights to stay healthy. In an effort to keep yourself from getting sick, wash your hands often, especially after being in a public place, and avoid touching your face until you’ve washed up.
Stay on Top of Your Heart Health
At Community Access Network, we’re committed to improving your heart health through routine physicals and expert care. Make an appointment with us today to schedule an exam or to talk with our doctors about your health.