While most people associate February with Valentine’s Day, it is also American Heart Month. American Heart Month offers an opportunity to deepen our knowledge of how to keep our hearts as healthy as possible through lifestyle habits.
About cardiovascular disease (CVD)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CVD is the leading cause of death (659k deaths per year) for both men and women. The term “heart disease” covers several conditions, but not limited to: congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks. The good news is that heart disease is preventable.
Here are some tips on how to keep your heart healthy for years to come:
Increasing physical activity is an effective way to lower your risk factors for heart disease. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that most adults should include:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week
- Muscle strengthening exercises two or more times a week
If you are sedentary, begin by slowly incorporating more activity into your daily life. This doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym every day. Going for a walk every day can also decrease your risk of chronic disease. A great way to add motivation is to find or create a fitness challenge for yourself, such as walking a certain number of miles per month or even per year!
If you find yourself struggling to fit in exercise, here are other ways you can sneak it into your daily routine:
Find your passion
- Find an activity that interests you and go for it. Like to bike? Hike? Play pickleball or tennis? When you find an exercise that’s enjoyable for you, you are more likely to make time for it and stick with doing it.
Sneak in Opportunities
- Look for ways to be active throughout the day.
Park farther away from a building. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Leave the car at home, and run an errand by foot in your neighborhood. These small opportunities can add up to positive results.
- Oftentimes our busy lives are taken over by a list of “have to do’s” and deadlines that seem to overshadow our own needs. Be sure to first put your personal health at the top of your priority list.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
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