Heart Health

Instead of focusing on candy hearts this Valentine’s day, focus on your heart health and the gains you can make with a few small changes.  Your friends and family will appreciate you being around to spend more Valentine’s days with you, and you’ll start to feel much better.

Do you feel stressed out?  Incorporate a few minutes of deep breathing, mindfulness, or gratitude practice a few times a day.

Do you have high blood pressure?  If your blood pressure is higher than 140/90, please schedule an appointment with a health care provider immediately.  Not treating high blood pressure is dangerous, heart Anatomy_Heart_English_Tiesworksand increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.  Not the way you want to spend your Valentine’s day or any day!!  Normal blood pressure is below 120/80- any consistently above that is considered prehypertension or hypertension. [Check out the American Heart Association for more info.]

Do you exercise regularly?  Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, and lower blood pressure or cholesterol.  The American Heart Association’s recommendations for physical activity in adults are here.  No matter how you count it, most Americans are not getting adequate exercise.  If it’s been a while since you have been active, don’t worry about getting new clothes or special equipment, just start with these activities:

  • climbing stairs
  • walking
  • stretching
  • push-ups against a wall or a desk

Once you have established a habit of 30 minutes/day with these activities, treat yourself to a new pair of sneakers or a jog bra and keep moving!!

Do you regularly eat meatless meals?  Are you willing to give up meat and dairy to avoid having to start cholesterol medication?  Consider the following simple changes to get you started:

  • Switch out your regular breakfast for oatmeal sweetened with fruitNutritionFacts oatmeal
  • Increase your vegetable consumption to 5 veggies/day
  • Switch out white rice with brown rice
  • Minimize your bread intake and only eat whole grain bread

This Valentine’s day, show your love of family and friends by focusing on your heart health instead of sugar.  Here are some ideas:

  • Only eat or give dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocao
  • Spend time together doing an activity (on Valentine’s day or as a voucher)
  • Work on a project with family or friends

Be an example of heart health so you are all around for longer and healthier lives!!