February is American Heart Month. Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. One in four women dies of heart disease & for African American women, the risk of heart disease is especially great.
High blood pressure, obesity & diabetes are some of the factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease. The good news is you can take action and lower your chance of developing heart disease and its risk factors. In fact, just by leading a healthy lifestyle women can lower their risk by as much as 82%. Below are 5 tips for improving your heart health.
BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
Your heart is a muscle, and it needs exercise to be strong and healthy. The exercise that keeps it healthy is aerobic, such as brisk walking, running, biking, etc. Aim for getting at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise to have a healthy heart. Find something you enjoy doing and then make it a priority to engage in it on a regular basis.
Eating a healthy diet is important to having a healthy heart. Don't skip meals! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Aim for eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants that will help protect your health. Find heart healthy substitutions for your traditional favorites. Remove the salt shaker! use spices and herbs for traditional flavors.
Living in a constant state of stress puts you at greater risk of a heart attack and other heart-related issues. When you feel stressed, your body releases the hormone called cortisol. When you are chronically stressed, you are getting a lot of that hormone, which increases risks of a heart attack. Focus on ways to reduce stress such as reading, meditation or yoga.
WATER IT DOWN
Staying hydrated prevents your heart from working overtime. According to The American Heart Association, water helps your heart pump blood through your blood vessels and your muscles to remove waste so both can function more efficiently.
Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. According to the National Sleep Foundation lack of sleep puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. Getting enough good quality sleep is important if you want to lower you risk of these conditions.