Valentine’s Day isn’t the only reason for heart-shaped decor this February. Right now, we’re in the midst of American Heart Month — the more anatomically correct of the two February holidays — and Mercy Urgent Care wants to remind you to keep heart health in mind this month and all year long.
American Heart Month was created to spread awareness of heart health, while also motivating Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles and prevent heart disease. The world’s No. 1 killer, cardiovascular disease claims 17.5 million lives globally each year and is responsible for one of every four deaths (about 647,000 annually) in America. According to the CDC, one person in the U.S. dies every 37 seconds from cardiovascular disease. But, by controlling risk factors like tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, about 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke can be avoided.
So what can you do — both for your heart and the hearts of your loved ones?
Eat Well and Drink Wisely
- Cut out sugar-filled beverages like sodas. Instead, try water with a slice of cucumber or a sprig of mint.
- Cut down on processed, prepackaged foods. Whole foods like fruits, veggies, cheese or nuts contain just what your body needs (and less of what makes it ill).
- Try to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. If that sounds like a lot, blend fruits and vegetables into smoothies — or get creative with your salads.
- Meal plan by making large batches of healthy foods — grains and vegetables — and take it to work for lunch all week.
- Limit your alcohol consumption to the recommended amounts for your age and gender.
Get Up and Move
- Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five times a week.
- To keep you on your toes, mix up your exercise. Walking, dancing and intense housework all count as exercise.
- If you spend much of your day sitting — whether it’s at a computer, hard at work, or binging the latest hot television series — remember to stand up and move around at least once an hour. Get up, walk around, climb stairs, do squats — whatever it takes to get a mini-workout in before getting back to work (or play).
- Take advantage of Asheville’s wonderful hiking and biking opportunities. We live in one of the most gorgeous regions in the country, so don’t forget to take full advantage of our wonderful scenic exercise opportunities.
- Let technology help! It’s a great time to be fit, with technology like Fitbits, Apple watches and smartphone apps that allow you to track your exercise progress, whether it’s miles walked, steps climbed or calories burned.
- This is the single most important thing you can do for your heart and your overall health — and it’s one of the easiest to do, if you set your mind to it. By quitting use of tobacco products, your heart is already automatically healthier than those who continue to smoke. This one act can reduce or even reverse heart disease in patients.
- Those around you stand to benefit from you quitting too. If no longer exposed to second-hand smoke, your loved ones will also benefit and have stronger overall health.