With American Heart Health Month coming to an end, continue to focus on simple things you can do to keep your heart healthy and happy.
February is American Heart Month, an important time to focus on becoming heart healthy. From exercising and eating well, to regular sleep and maintaining healthy blood pressure, there are many things you can do keep you can do to keep your heart muscle strong and happy.
It's important to get regular blood pressure screenings and continue simple activities to keep your heart healthy. The YMCA recommends trying these five tips with your whole family:
- Get Moving: Being physically active every day is not only fun, it can also improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play. For example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.
- Rest Up: Lack of sleep can be associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.
- Revamp your recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, try using low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead in your favorite dishes. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package and select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.
- Check your pressure: Revised blood pressure guidelines from American Heart Association mean that nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) have high blood pressure. Lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor if needed.
- Quality time: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade Easter decorations or play a game of catch in the yard or the park.
Visit your nearest Y for more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life.