It’s All About Heart

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear February? I’m guessing it was probably Valentine’s Day – a day where people express their love and affection for one another, often through the exchange of gifts, cards, flowers, or chocolates. Is it a coincidence that the month overrun with heart-shaped items is also American Heart Month?

American Heart Month aims to raise awareness about heart disease and promote heart-healthy habits. By making small changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can take steps towards better heart health and overall well-being. Here are a few ways you can protect your heart:

  • Eat (And Drink) Better – One of the most important ways to keep your heart healthy is through a balanced and nutritious diet. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, it’s important to limit your intake of processed and high-fat foods, as well as sugary drinks and snacks; be sure to drink your water!
  • Move More – Being physically active is very important for your overall health and well-being. There are many simple ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, but the key is to find an activity you enjoy and fits into your lifestyle. Remember, even small amounts of physical activity can make a big difference in your health, so don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up to more challenging exercises.
  • Be Sure to Catch Some Zs – Getting healthy sleep is needed for our overall well-being. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Ways to achieve this include: sticking to a sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, limiting screen time, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and exercising regularly.

Other ways to improve heart health is to manage weight, control cholesterol, and manage blood sugar and pressure – all of which can managed by eating and drinking better, moving more, and getting good sleep. Of course, always talk with your doctor before changing your diet and/or adding exercise to your routine.

Valentine’s Day is a chance to show others love. Why not celebrate the entire month of February by showing yourself a little love – particularly your heart – by making small, heart-healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle. For more information on heart-healthy habits, contact Jessie Jones, Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, by calling 910-862-4591 or emailing jessie_jones@ncsu.edu.