I ♥ A Healthy Heart!

Feb 11, 2011


With Valentine's Day among us, we automatically associate the heart; the eternal symbol of love, with the month of February. While the symbolic shape of the heart is a more common familiarity, we tend to forget about that special organ; "the human heart" and what are we really doing with it. This month, ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to keep that heart beating longer and stronger.....after all, a healthy heart will see many more Valentine's Days in its future!

Here are five ways you can keep your heart healthy:

1. Get to sleep: Harvard Medical School reports that not getting enough sleep can contribute to heart disease, and vice versa. Poor sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, obesity and diabetes. For quality sleep at night, exercise, eat a light, healthy snack several hours before bed, maintain a consistent bedtime routine, and practice relaxation techniques when you first lie down to keep your mind from racing.

2. Reduce stress: It is important to reduce stress and to learn how to de-stress if you want to avoid heart issues. Remember, you do not have to meet others' expectations or demands. It's OK to say "no." To reduce stress, try aerobic exercise, which releases endorphins (natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude); meditation; reading a book; writing in a journal; or joining a support group.

3. Watch what you eat: Choose lean meats and poultry without skin, and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat. Put the emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat sources of protein. Cut back on beverages and food with added sugar. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink a day if you're a woman and two drinks per day if you're a man.

4. Get busy: Daily physical activity is also important for avoiding heart disease. It is important to get 30 minutes of exercise per day, which can be broken up into three 10-minute segments. Find something you enjoy doing, such as taking a walk or riding a bike.

5. Manage your weight: Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, and the extra weight makes your heart work even harder. Adopt healthy lifestyle choices on your own, which will lead to managing your weight over time, or speak to your doctor about options for weight reduction that are right for you.

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