You knew that February was the month of heart-shaped candy and adorable heart-shaped Valentine’s cards, but did you know that February is also National Heart Month? That’s right, as we are all celebrating the month of love, cardiologists around the country are reminding us of the importance of taking great care of your heart health. That’s too convenient to be an accident! The beginning of the year is also when we set new goals for ourselves. We resolve to be better, healthier versions of ourselves, and for a vast majority of people, those resolutions revolve around taking better care of our physical health.

If all of this is ringing a bell for you, and you’re looking for ways to feel better in 2022, there is no better place to start than during National Heart Month. We’ve compiled a list for you of tips to help you take control of your health. You’ll find that none of these items are expensive or complicated. The pursuit of heart health is more simple than people often think. We hope this list is helpful and you spend the first part of 2022 working toward your best health yet.

Check The Quality Of Your Diet

One of the biggest culprits in the war against poor heart health is diet. Over the years, our culture has driven us toward convenience, and our diets have suffered as a result. Busy families choose highly processed fast foods because they make life easier when running from one place to another, just trying to stay on top of everything. Then once people are enjoying their retirement years, they may not want the hassle of making dinner every night, so they opt for tv dinners. We understand the temptation, but we’re also very aware of how these convenience food choices affect people’s heart health. If you’re looking for an easy way to transform your health, the first step you should take is to evaluate your diet and make some changes. 

The best foods for your heart are lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Unfortunately, most of us cram our diets with a variety of bad foods for our health, including high fat, high sugar, and high salt foods. The easiest way to think about it is to opt for food whose origin you can easily determine. For example, fruits and vegetables come to the store in virtually the same form they grew out of the ground. Lean meat and fish are processed (meaning they’re cut from the animal and packaged into usable quantities), but you’re only a couple of steps removed from the point of origin. Choosing whole foods may be a significant change in your diet, but it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways to get healthy.

Develop A Regular Exercise Habit

Too often, we think of exercise as a tool to make our bodies look desirable to others. While that is sometimes a side effect, the actual purpose of regular exercise is to help maintain your health. Heart-healthy exercise doesn’t have to be exhausting, nor does it require Olympic-level training. In fact, for some heart patients, that extreme level of exercise may put more strain on the cardiovascular system than is normal or healthy. 

One great way to incorporate regular exercise into your life is through walking. You can walk outside or on a treadmill. You can walk at the mall or take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. There are many simple and inexpensive ways to sneak in just a bit more movement into your daily life. The more you move, and your heart rate rises and lowers, your system gets stronger. If you have negative feelings about exercise, start small, and you’ll be amazed at the positive effects it will have on your health.

Learn To Reduce Your Stress

Chronic stress is another significant contributor to poor heart health. When we spend a lot of our time in an artificially produced state of fight for flight, it causes high blood pressure, leading to several dangerous heart diseases. The fight or flight mechanism in our bodies is meant to respond quickly when we are under attack. Most of us are not in physical danger these days, but our nervous systems react to other stressors like politics and stressful work environments. To protect our cardiac health, we all need to learn to respond to stress better. 

People turn to a lot of different things to reduce stress. It’s essential to make sure your solution is positive. Food, alcohol, and cigarettes may make you feel less stressed at the moment; however, they negatively affect your health in the long run. Meditation, getting plenty of sleep, therapy, and cultivating healthy relationships are some excellent ways to manage stress and improve your overall well-being.

Understand Your Risks

Like your eye color, your risk for heart disease is passed down through your family; to determine whether or not you are predisposed for poor heart health, it’s important to collect as much familial health information as possible. Even if you are in good health today, this information will be helpful to your cardiologist as you monitor your cardiac health as you age. Plus, knowing your risks may help you make wise choices to avoid falling victim to your genetics. Ultimately, prevention is the best way to treat cardiovascular issues. Talk to your doctor about your family history of heart disease. 

As we enjoy this new calendar year and celebrate National Heart Month, we hope you’ll begin to implement some of the heart health tips we’ve outlined above. Heart health is a marathon, and incremental changes will have a profoundly positive long-term effect over the years. One more thing ought to be on the top of this list. Having a good, consistent relationship with a cardiologist you trust is essential if you pursue improved cardiac health. Cardiologists are experts who will monitor your heart health and the effectiveness of the changes you’re making to your lifestyle. You can’t beat a great doctor. If you’d like to learn more about our practice or meet a member of our team, contact us today.