The Centre for Disease Control & Prevention, amongst other organisations around the world, has declared February to be heart health awareness month. Valentine’s day is all about hearts and love – so why not take the opportunity to take care of yours this month? Here are some basic things you could be doing to improve your heart health:
1) Improve heart health by giving up those unhealthy habits
Smoking, drinking alcohol, eating processed and salty foods – whilst engaging in these unhealthy behaviours are things we don’t even think about, they do a lot of damage in the long run. Cutting down on these unhealthy habits will not only leave you feeling better (and have a significant impact on your bank account); they will also leave you with a happy, healthy heart.
2) Exercise, exercise, exercise!
It’s drilled into our heads to lead more active and healthy lifestyles – but many people can find it very tedious to incorporate exercise into their daily routine. You don’t need to become a gym rat overnight – it’s about the small changes you can integrate into your life.
Get up from your desk and go for a short walk. Park further away from the office – or better yet, cycle or walk to work.
Make exercise fun – if you don’t enjoy playing sports, you might find that joining a fitness class is the right move for you. Not only does the support of others help you keep at it – it’s a social activity. You’re bound to make new friends with the other regulars over time!
3) Cut down on the stress
Nothing is more damaging to your heart than living a stressful life. Whether it’s work, problems at home, or just the general humdrum of everyday life – counteract it and take measures to minimise your stress.
Do more of what you enjoy and learn to say no to others – it’s not only perfectly acceptable to put yourself first, it is also good for you – both for your mental and physical health.
4) Understand the importance of your personal relationships
Whether it’s reconnecting with an old friend over a cup of coffee, or popping over to your parents’ place for Sunday lunch – the small things in life will help keep you calmer, reduce anxiety and generally give you a much more positive perspective on life – all things which are essential to good heart health.
5) Be aware of your numbers
Do you know what your cholesterol level is? What about your blood pressure? There’s no hard and fast rule saying what your ideal level is – it varies depending on age, gender, race and lifestyle – but it is worth knowing what you should aim for. Speak to your GP to find out where you currently stand – and where you should be, and take measures to make sure you hit those figures.
Remember to schedule regular check-ups with your GP to make sure everything is on track!