10 ways to show your heart some love on Valentine's Day
Just in time for Valentine's Day, the American Heart Association offers these 10 tips for a healthy heart:
- Make a date (and keep it). Each year on your birthday, schedule a checkup. Have your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels checked, and ask your doctor to help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to follow your health care professional's recommendations, including taking prescribed medications.
- Tune in as you tone up. Add more physical activity to your life by stepping, marching or jogging in place for at least 15 minutes a day while watching your favorite TV shows. Increase your activity by five minutes each week until you’re getting a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Grab some H2O when you go. Take a water bottle with you wherever you go. It’ll keep you hydrated and the bottle’s weight will strengthen your arms.
- Out of sight, out of mouth. Keep packages of unhealthful food hidden in the pantry. Put raw veggies and fruits in the front of the refrigerator and keep healthful snacks in the front of the pantry, so they are what you see first. If you keep grabbing healthful foods for a minimum of 21 times, it will soon become a habit. Also, look for the American Heart Association heart-check mark. This easy, reliable grocery shopping tool helps you identify food that can be part of a sensible eating plan.
- Eat right to control cholesterol. Eating foods high in saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol. To help keep your cholesterol levels down, eat foods low in saturated fat, such as lean chicken or turkey (roasted or baked, with skin removed), fruits and veggies, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and whole grains. Look for American Heart Association cookbooks in your local bookstore for healthy and delicious recipes.
- Shake the salt habit. To help lower high blood pressure, watch your salt intake. It may be disguised in food labels as sodium alginate, sodium sulfite, sodium caseinate, disodium phosphate, sodium benzoate, sodium hydroxide, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and sodium citrate.
- Kick butts. If you smoke, quit. Try this four-step way to snuff your habit. On Day 1, cut the number of cigarettes you smoke by half. On Day 3, cut the number of cigarettes you smoke in half again. On Day 5, cut your smoking in half again. On your Quit Day, quit!
- Be a good loser. Excess weight increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. To achieve steady, painless weight loss, take it easy. Each day, if you eat 200-300 calories less than you would normally consume, and exercise at least 30 minutes on most or all days of the week, you’ll get closer to your goal and be able to achieve weight loss that’s steady and painless.
- Don't let a slip keep you down. If you have a cigarette, mess up on a meal or get off your exercise schedule, immediately get back on track toward re-establishing a healthy lifestyle.
- Say, "Yay for me." To maintain momentum with exercising, losing weight or quitting smoking, keep track of your achievements and reward yourself by doing something you enjoy.