February is notoriously known as the month of ‘love’ thanks to St. Valentine’s Day, but did you also know that February is Heart Health month?
In honor of this, we've come up with five key things we believe will help keep your heart healthy and able to do all those fun things you love like running a half marathon, taking your weekly yoga class or even playing with your kids (or dog!), for years to come. The key to a happy heart truly is a healthy one!
1. Be Active…Always - Most of us know that exercise strengths your heart and reduces your risk of hear problems, but did you know that prolonged periods of inactivity negatively affects your heart? If you work a desk job, make it a goal to get up and get moving every hour.
Even if it is to stand up and give yourself a quick stretch. When you’re active outside of work, add weight training to your routine to increase your muscle mass. Doing this will increase your good cholesterol levels.
2. Sleep Well & De-stress Often - Yes, it’s okay to take a vacation! Sometimes you just need to unplug and go away for a week to unwind and relax. That’s just what the doctor ordered for minimizing stress!
But if you can’t do that every month, try signing up for a class you love like a painting class or couples yoga. Or even find something at home that helps you to unwind each day like playing with your dog or curling up by the fireplace and reading a great book.
Unwinding at the end of the day (and turning off ALL electronics) for at least an hour before you hit the hay will help your sleep patterns tremendously. Your sleep quality will be better which is excellent for your heart. Try getting at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night as well.
3. Eat Clean - There are SO many benefits about clean eating and avoiding processed food and artificial gunk. Eating real, whole foods can help lower your blood pressure and keep blood sugars in check.
Don’t forget to consume healthy fats (from foods like avocados, salmon, nuts/seeds, etc), which also help to decrease blood pressure.
4. Give Back - This might sound like an interesting one but when people volunteer their time they actually tend to live longer than people who don’t.
Volunteering increases social connectivity, which can decrease stress and give you that ‘warm, fuzzy feeling’ inside. When connecting to fun activities you also have more chance to be laughing.
Research from the University of Maryland Medical Center actually shows the laughter helps relieve the stress that damages the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels and helps your blood flow smoother.
So go ahead, find a charity or cause that’s close to your heart and sign up to volunteer some of your time to help their latest initiative.
5. Stay Hydrated - The less hydrated you are the harder your heart has to work to pump your blood into your muscles. When you’re active and involved in intense physical activity, drinking water (and replenishing those precious electrolytes) will help to recover your heart rate, faster. Helping to ensure you’ll be ready and able to tackle whatever your day might have in store!