As January has come and gone, many people have set New Year’s resolutions for 2016. February is not only a time to keep these resolutions in place, but also a time to worry about keeping one’s heart healthy. February is American Heart Month, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. The positive side of this is that heart disease can be prevented by making healthier choices, as well as maintaining and improving current health conditions. Improving heart health is easy to do with just two simple things, diet and exercise! Here are some tips in keeping your heart healthy this month, and beyond!
- Know your recommended calorie intake
Calorie intake depends on several factors including: age, gender, and physical activity. Most food labels and nutrition information are based off of a 2,000 calorie diet and for some people this may need to be more or less. If you are trying to maintain weight, than making sure to keep track of calories consumed and calorie deficit from physical activity is an important aspect.
- Physical activity recommendations
Physical activity is essential for keeping the heart healthy and preventing heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous activity three to four times in order to lower blood pressure or cholesterol. Aerobic exercise is anything that raises your heart rate while using oxygen and increasing respiration and some examples include: walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, etc.
- Consume heart healthy foods
You may believe you are eating plenty of food, but you may not be getting all the proper nutrients in. The nutrients we need include: minerals, protein, whole grains, and other nutrients but are lower in calories. Eat a variety of different foods including: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and non-tropical vegetable oils.
- Eat less of nutrient-poor foods
Limit foods and beverages that are high in calories and low in nutrients, also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium you eat.
- Avoid tobacco products and limit alcohol intake
It is no secret that smoking tobacco is not a healthy choice for the heart, and secondhand smoke can be very damaging to the heart as well. Also, making sure to drink alcohol in moderation, that is no more than one drink per day if you’re a female and no more than two drinks per day if you’re a male.
Source: American Heart AssociationKeep Your Heart Healthy by PDCM Insurance