One of the highlights of the month of February is Valentine’s Day, which has become a celebration of love for many.
Sure, some say the holiday has become overly commercialized, and you shouldn’t need a certain day of the year to let people know you care for them – we all can and really should express this sentiment anytime.
But still, Valentine’s Day is an easy time to let others know if they make your heart happy – as well as presenting an absolutely perfect way to tie into various heart-friendly holidays.
Among the celebrations taking place in February is American Heart Month, a time when people are encouraged to learn more about cardiac health. This includes general awareness of how the heart works, the risks of heart disease, and ways to reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attacks, or other cardiac conditions.
American Heart Month is also something that members of the health care community get behind by encouraging their patients and even their professional colleagues to focus on heart health all month long.
This can include educating others on good heart health and ways to make improvement in life, whether it’s encouraging more exercise opportunities or a better diet. Other lifestyle improvements can also go a long way to help cardiac health, such as stopping smoking or eliminating, or at least reducing, alcohol consumption.
One interesting part of the month’s heart-focused activities is National Wear Red Day. It’s a way to bring more attention to heart disease and motivate people to better protect their hearts.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute encourages everyone to wear red on this day as a way of showing awareness of heart issues and inviting others to take part.
The campaign offers a series of new banners and similar tools that people can use to spread the word about the day and good heart health in general. It also includes a variety of social media posts about the day as well as invitations to find ways to do your part.
Participants can also have a National Wear Red poster sent their way as well as various stickers. These can all be used as ways to reach people and encourage education and enthusiasm.
Because so many factors feed into heart health, there are some easy and some more challenging methods that people can try to reduce their risk overall. Education is big, since some people may not even realize that they are dealing with heart disease until it’s more advanced. Men and women alike could be good candidates for heart disease.
But being aware of the disease and taking steps to improve your health at any point can go a long way in reducing the overall risk. These steps can be large or small, but both can have positive results, especially when combined with other positive updates over a course of time.
Some of these include:
- Stopping cigarette smoking. Besides cutting costs, getting rid of cigarettes can improve aspects of the body.
- Reducing stress. Yes, this is one of those ‘easier said than done’ approaches since it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed personally and professionally. But looking for ways to reduce stress levels can be a good exercise especially when done regularly.
- More physical activity. The current recommendation for most ages is at least 20-25 minutes of rigorous exercise at least five days a week. More is certainly good.
- Drink less. Moderation is key – if you can’t quit drinking altogether, you can at least have a smaller portion. Less alcohol can improve sleep patterns as well. Alcohol can have negative effects on the body in the short term and long term.
- Sleep better. The amount of sleep each night varies, but generally it’s between six and eight hours. Having poor sleep on a regular basis can cause all sorts of negative changes to the body, including a lower immune system, slower reactions, and increased risk of forgetting details.
- Eat better. You don’t have to follow a specific branded diet or consume exclusive food to see results. There are a variety of foods that are better for your heart than others, including whole grains and protein. What is called the ‘Mediterranean diet’ which includes nuts, olive oil, white meat like chicken or fish, vegetables, and similar items. It’s not a commercial diet, but a recommended dietary approach that follows what many people in Western Europe eat who have better heart health and overall lower rates of cardiovascular problems.
- Avoid dangerous food. Eating better can also mean cutting out foods that are bad for overall health, such as processed foods, sugars, and unsaturated fats. Even a diet heavy in red meats like beef can have negative effects over time.
- Keep an eye on your metrics. This includes weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. You can monitor the first two yourself from home, but a provider might have to help with the third one. But trying to keep all three as low as safely possible can go a long way.