Greetings! February is traditionally known as the month observed to focus on love and relationships. It is also observed as National Heart Month. As you focus on building loving relationships, I encourage you to learn to love your heart as well! So how can you love thee (your heart that is), let us count the ways….
#1 Choose Your Diet Wisely
Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes:
• A variety of fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains
• Low-fat dairy products
• Skinless poultry and fish
• Nuts and legumes
• Non-tropical vegetable oils
Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available.
#2 Exercise Your Heart
Do 30 minutes of daily exercise that gets your heart rate up.
Simply make exercise a part of your daily routine. Find an activity that fits your lifestyle and take the time to do it. If you are busy, the good news is that the 30 minutes does not have to be all at once. You can do three 10 minute spurts (or two 15 minute spurts) of activity that get your heart rate up. You might do short and brisk walks two to three times a day.
#3 Don’t Smoke
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Smokers have about a 70 percent higher death rate from coronary artery disease than do nonsmokers. When you want to quit smoking, help is available. When you quit, your heart will begin to heal itself. Think about it. It will make you and your loved ones healthier and happier at the same time. Also, do your best to avoid secondhand smoke.
#4 Keep Your Numbers Controlled
There are three numbers you must focus on. They are your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. To keep them in check, be sure to have these levels measured regularly, and take medications from your doctor when necessary.
#5 Check Your Stress
Don’t ignore it when you’re feeling stressed for more than a day. To keep your ticker healthy, it’s important to assess your stress level every so often. Ideas for stress reduction include everything from listening to music to having a regular exercise routine to taking the time to meditate. Whatever you do, find what works for you. Doctors are even finding that laughter eases blood flow and reduces our stress, so try bringing some levity into your daily life.
Remember, in this season of love, to love others, but always love yourself and love your heart!
This story was “respectfully submitted in Christian love” by Erica L. Savage-Jeter, MD, MBA, FAAP, Wyatt’s Chapel Health Ministry Leader.