February is American Heart Month! Now is the perfect time to make some heart healthy changes to your life so you can prevent heart disease. Sadly heart disease is the number one killer in the United States – for both men and women. Luckily almost all of these deaths are preventable with some easy health changes.
So in honor of American Heart Month I want to challenge you to take three small steps to get your heart healthy! Small steps can make a world of difference in your health. In fact it has been shown that just 10 -20 minutes of moderate exercise a day can increase your good cholesterol by 5% (AHA) and it will decrease your coronary heart disease risk by 14%.
So if you are ready to commit to three small changes here are some easy health tips for you to get started.
- Walk at a brisk pace 15 minutes a day – grab the dog, the kids or your spouse and take a quick walk. Or do it on your lunch break, the important part is to just get moving.
- Eliminate one processed food in exchange for a natural one. For example instead of bagged French fries make your own from real potatoes. It really is not as hard as it sounds. Cut a potato, season with olive oil and spices and bake for 40 minutes. If I can do it then trust me you can too!
- Practice meditation for 10 minutes – stress is a risk factor for heart disease because of increased blood pressure that stress causes, so work on lowering your stress with meditation or even yoga. (Struggling to Meditate? Try Guided Meditation)
- Drink water – try and aim for at least 8 glasses a day. You can start by slowly increasing your intake by a glass a day. Water cuts back on hunger and allows your body function better.
- Get 30 more minutes of sleep each night. As American’s we underestimate the value of sleep. Lack of sleep means that our bodies don’t have time to heal themselves, it will make you hungrier the next day and it will even decrease your will power. So make it a point to go to bed a few minutes earlier – you will be amazed at the difference in how you feel with just 30 minutes extra.
- Eat one extra serving of fruit or vegetable. Many of us are not getting the right amount of fruits and veggies, and it can be overwhelming to add five all at once. Instead add an extra one a day for now and work up to more next month. (Check out the fruit and veggie challenge)
- Get a massage – who said small changes had to be bad? Massage is great for circulation, and stress reduction. In fact it has been shown that the more regular you have massage the better impact on your blood pressure so get one monthly!
- Get a pedometer and track your steps. You might be amazed at how little you are actually moving during the day. So in addition to that 15 minute walk you are doing get a pedometer and make sure you are hitting 10,000 steps a day.
- Replace your desk chair with an exercise ball. This will force you to use your muscles and have better posture throughout the day, which increases the amount of calories you are using. This might decrease your weight and the lower your weight the better your heart.
- Cook at home one extra night a week. Restaurant food has more calories and typically more preservatives, so by cutting out one extra night out you can improve your health dramatically.
- Don’t add salt to your food when it is served. Most American’s get too much sodium so skipping the extra salt is a big benefit to your heart. (Sodium and Your Heart: What You Need to Know)
Did these easy health tips give you ideas on what you can do to prevent heart disease? Fantastic, now you can also join us at the Go Red Movement and join us in spreading the word about heart disease. Your heart will thank you!
Your Turn – What other quick and easy health tips do you have to share?