4 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy – Beyond Heart Month

It’s American Heart Month! We want to share four ways to keep you heart, mind, and body happy and healthy. The combination of eating right, working out, relieving stress and educating yourself– can help keep your heart pumping for years to come. Make sure to visit the American Heart Association for more tools and facts on heart health.

Eat Healthy

Does this sound like you? Your day is jam-packed and feeding your body isn’t on the schedule. When life gets busy, we may forget that nutritious food is what keeps us moving and thinking – what we rely on to stay focused.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you know what you are putting into your body. Avoid foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oils and reduce trans fats in your diet to help control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Fill your plate with a variety of foods from all food groups. That means fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils, such as canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and sesame oil. Try adding foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout and herring to your dinner plates.

By eating these foods, you are helping to decrease your triglyceride levels, slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and slightly lower your blood pressure. During your trip to the market, look out for the “Heart-Check” mark on food labels, this stamp ensures the credibility of the nation’s leader in heart health – the American Heart Association – and makes shopping for healthy foods easier.

Get Active!

Staying active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heart disease and stroke. The AHA recommends that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity at least 5 days a week as well as two days a week of intense muscle-strengthening activity. Activities such as jogging, biking, swimming and strength training are great examples of ways to keep your heart pumping. Check out this link to recommended types of fitness.

When active, remember to be easy on yourself. Set a goal that you will work up to over time. Work towards increasing your stamina and flexibility and the rest will come naturally.

Manage Stress

Stress is a natural feeling that can become overwhelming. Stress enables unhealthy decision making, such as binge and stress eating. It is important to take the time to learn how to stop these feelings in their tracks.

The AHA recommends that we turn to our friends and family during stressful times. Talk to others about what is going on instead of letting your mind unwind. Physical activity helps, too — it doesn’t just benefit your body, but helps your mind stay settled and stress-free. Last but not least, a great way to keep stress levels down is to remember to laugh. Surround yourself with positive, fun energy to keep your mind and heart healthy.

When in need of immediate stress relievers, remember these three quick actions:

  • Count to 10 before you speak
  • Go for a walk
  • Take 3-5 deep breaths.

Know the Signs of a Heart Attack

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the US, but symptoms beforehand are usually shrugged off as a less threatening condition. The importance of educating yourself on the signs could help save your own life or the life of a loved one.

The American Heart Association describes signs of a heart attack in women as:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Although symptoms may differ in men and women, a heart attack can be a signal for heart disease in all. Remember to continuously check in with your doctor. Request information, such as your BMI and blood pressure to educate yourself on your heart health.

For more information on how to keep your heart healthy visit the American Heart Association at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/.