Love Your Heart
February is all about the heart – and it’s not just for valentines. It’s also American Heart Month, an awareness campaign to encourage heart-healthy lifestyles. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and it’s largely preventable.
David Goff, M.D., director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), points out, “Studies show self-care routines, such as taking a daily walk and keeping doctor’s appointments, help us keep our blood pressure in the healthy range and reduce our risk of heart disease and stroke.”
So, here are ways to show your heart some love, each day of the week for 30 minutes, according to NHLBI.
Self-Care Sunday. Carve out quality time for yourself, by yourself. Take a stroll outside, meditate, play with a pet – whatever brings peace and serenity
Mindful Monday. Pay attention to your health status. Monitor your blood pressure and/or blood sugar. Keep an eye on your weight. Think about changes that will help improve your health, whether it’s moving more or losing weight.
Tasty Tuesday. Being heart healthy can taste delicious. Pep up foods with a fresh herb or spice instead of salt. Research healthy substitutions you can make or try a new way of eating like the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure.
Wellness Wednesday. Wellness is practicing habits for better physical and mental outcomes so you can thrive. So, focus on those habits, whether its quitting smoking, adding fruits and vegetable to your plate, or exercising for an extra 10 minutes. Wellness also includes learning, including how to recognize signs of a heart attack.
Treat Thursday. Believe it or not: treats can be healthy! For the dessert variety, consider fresh fruit with honey and yogurt. And then think beyond food. Throw a dance party, host a game night, or watch a comedy. Laughter is good for you and your heart.
Follow Friday. Find people who inspire you. Reach out to a friend to catch-up and check-in. Self-care relies on good mental health. If needed, use this day to follow-up on your mental health by reaching out to loved ones or a qualified provider for support.
Sharing Saturday. There are people who look up to you. Inspire others to care for their own hearts. Share your own routine, journey, and insights. Partner up with others for social support with your goals.
The move you care for your heart, the healthier your heart can be. And that’s love for yourself and your valentine.
Sources: NIH; CDC; MayoClinic.