5 Easy Ways to Prioritize Your Heart Health
February is American Heart Health Month, but considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the US, cardiovascular health should be top of mind year-round. The stats are sobering: according to the CDC, one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease in the United States. Whether you are managing other conditions or are in good health, it’s essential to make sure your lifestyle supports a healthy heart.
From what you put on your plate to how you manage stress, follow these five simple tips for prioritizing your heart health every day.
Use the American Heart Association (AHA)’s Heart-Check mark to guide your groceries
Next time you’re shopping for groceries, look for the Heart-Check mark, which indicates that a product aligns with the AHA’s heart-healthy recommendations (typically foods that are high in nutrients and low in sodium and unhealthy fats). The mark makes getting groceries easier and takes some of the work out of crafting healthy meals. It’s a win-win, so check out more on the Heart-Check mark here.
Combat stress with a customized self-care plan
In a perfect world, we’d be stress-free and at peace all the time. In reality, our personal and professional lives can cause us severe stress that we might not even realize is there (though, honestly, we usually feel that burden pretty clearly). Creating a self-care routine or even a list of activities that keep you calm and in check when you need to cool down helps lessen the weight. Think meditation, therapy, reading, journaling, spending time outdoors, cooking, catching up with friends, and so on. Get some great ideas here.
Set yourself up to get better sleep
Another great way to manage your stress is to get good quality sleep. Healthy sleep is something that evades 70% of American adults, and the CDC considers our lack of sleep a national epidemic. Once again, it’s about finding what’s right for you. Maybe that’s a new nighttime routine, an earlier bedtime, a gentle sunrise alarm clock – even making the right decisions throughout your day can help (skip that 3 pm cup of coffee and see how you feel at night). You can explore more information and tons of advice via the Sleep Foundation.
Work your exercise into your everyday routine
If this section is conjuring up visions of 1,000 burpees and training for a triathlon, don’t stop reading. Staying active can be as simple as starting your day with a half-hour walk or riding your bike to work (something to avoid being sedentary all day). Finding a couple of higher intensity activities you enjoy is advisable, too. Try creating a regimen based on what the AHA considers healthy cardiovascular activity for adults (and kids) of all ages.
Be mindful of your alcohol consumption
In moderation, you can enjoy your favorite alcoholic beverage with peace of mind. Excessive consumption, though, could wreak havoc on your heart health. Here’s some great information on whether alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle. There is also a slew of new canned or bottled beverages out there catering to those in search of a lower (or zero) alcohol by volume cocktails, and you can always make your own.