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Heart-healthy Tips for American Heart Month

A happy heart means a healthy life.

Fruits and vegetables in a heart-shaped bowl next to an apple and a stethoscope

The first American Heart Month was celebrated in February of 1964, making this year the 58th year of this effort to raise awareness about heart disease. While we’ve come a long way in the fight against heart disease, we still have much work to do. So, to help improve heart health for everyone, we’ve put together a list of quick tips for keeping your heart happy and healthy!

Get moving

The cheapest, quickest, and simplest way to take care of your heart is to stay active. While a good aerobic exercise program is the best routine for heart health, even something as simple as a brisk walk for ten minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart disease. Invite friends and family, take your kids with you, or put on some music and get some fresh air. The important thing is to make a habit of it, and your heart will be all the more grateful.

Lose weight

While it may seem difficult, losing weight is an effective way to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. For overweight adults, dropping as little as five percent of their body weight can have great benefits for their heart. Some simple tips for losing weight include reducing the number of calories you take in and staying active for at least 90 minutes a week. To really shed some pounds, make sure that 90 minutes of activity increases your heart rate. If you’re not very active, starting with as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day will not only help your heart, but also set you up for a new, healthier routine.

Quit smoking

If you’re a smoker, throwing out those nicotine sticks is the best method to set yourself on the path toward a heart-healthy lifestyle. Due to its serious effects on your lungs, smoking greatly reduces your body’s ability to circulate oxygen-rich blood. While also increasing your blood pressure, this means smoking makes your heart work harder to supply the rest of your body with the blood it needs. Want help quitting? Here are some great resources for quitting.

Reduce stress

Chronic stress can put you at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Stress also activates the body’s natural defenses, causing increased inflammation. Put all of these together, and it spells trouble for the heart. Practicing relaxation tips such as meditating, focused breathing, and even listening to calming music can help you reduce stress, which boosts heart-health. Some other ways to help lower stress include walking and exercising regularly, strengthening social connections, and keeping a positive attitude. If you’re happier, your heart will be too.

Improving sleep

Improving your sleep doesn’t always mean getting more. Be sure to set yourself up for seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night by lowering your stress levels, staying active during the day, and limiting your exposure to screens at least an hour before bedtime. So put down your phone, put on some soothing music and enjoy a hot bath before bed. With an active daily routine and a regular bedtime, your heart is sure to get the rest it needs to keep you happy and healthy.

Learn more about heart health