February is American Heart Health Month, so there is no better time to take stock in what you’re doing to make sure your ticker is in tip-top shape. From a healthy eating plan to exercise to stress management, there are steps you can start taking today to reduce your risk for heart disease. These tips are for folks of all ages too- there’s no such thing as starting to take care of your heart too early! Here are eight easy tips you can employ now to take care of your heart for the future:
- Understand the difference between portion size and serving size. Set yourself up for success by reading nutrition labels and understanding exactly how much of any given food you should be consuming on a daily basis. There are many helpful resources for portion knowledge and control, but the main thing to remember when you’re first embarking on this journey is that it will take time to learn and re-train our brains so we have to be patient with ourselves!
- Instead of cutting out your favorite foods altogether, just reduce your portion size. It’ll be a lot easier to maintain a healthy diet when you are able to treat yourself too. When you sub out larger portions, you’re able to sub in delicious foods that are high in fiber and have healthy fats such as avocados and nuts. These foods will fill you up and reduce the risk of you reaching for that bag of chips for an afternoon pick-me-up.
- Add color to your plate! Start small and slowly build to add more and more fresh produce to your diet. Did you know that half a cup of fresh or frozen produce equals one serving for the day? Breaking down a large goal (eating your daily serving of fruits and veggies) into smaller steps (starting with one piece of fruit per day) makes the end goal a lot easier to attain!
- Make taking a daily walk a priority of your day. If you’re having trouble getting started, bring a friend along with you or listen to your favorite podcast or music. It is truly amazing how beneficial walking is for your health. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to run or get involved in another form of exercise once you get going!
- Ensure you have the proper equipment before you start exercising. How discouraging is it to think about going for a walk when your shoes don’t fit properly, or to consider attending spin class when you don’t have comfortable, breathable apparel? Beat this obstacle to your heart health by getting properly outfitted!
- Did you know that improper or poor sleep can lead you to crave fatty, sugary foods? It’s true! And that’s why it’s so important to ensure you’re getting all of your zzz’s. Most adults need approximately seven hours of sleep each night (we know, sounds impossible), so establish a sleep routine and limit your coffee before bedtime. This simple, but oh-so-important characteristic of heart health is critical.
- Nip stress in the bud- for good. Try yoga, participating in a charity you’re passionate about, or creating something with your hands. These activities can help you clear your mind and realign you to what is truly important! Brainstorm other positive stress-reducing activities and invite friends and family along for the ride!
- Make self-care a priority. In today’s never stopping, always-on world, it is hard to stop and take a breather. Sin embargo, rest and relaxation are paramount to your heart health. Get a massage, have a standing coffee date with a friend, or take a luxurious bubble bath. Do those things that bring you joy and refresh your mind! Mental health plays a huge role in your heart health.
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