Your heart is an amazing machine. Though it is small—only about the size of a fist—it does a huge job. Every day, every hour, every minute, it pumps blood throughout your body, making it critical to your health.
So what are you doing to keep your ticker in tip-top shape? After all it does for you, be sure you take good care of your heart.
Since February is American Heart Month, this is the perfect time for you to understand and implement some basic guidelines:
· Watch what you eat. You may hear these suggestions over and over, but they’re really important. Each day you should eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and lean protein, such as fish, soy, and legumes. Foods that are high in saturated fat and trans fats can wreak havoc on your heart and lead to heart disease.
· Stay active. The American Heart Association recommends that you get regular exercise, at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Try walking, biking, swimming, or anything you can stick with. Breaking a sweat will keep your heart pumping, help you maintain a healthy weight, and even boost your mood.
· Drop the extra pounds. If you’re overweight, you’re putting extra pressure on your heart and making it work harder. Start with a healthy diet and an exercise plan, and if you need help, talk to your doctor about the best ways to lose weight.
· Kick the habit. Smoking is harmful for your heart, your lungs, and your whole body. It increases your risks of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. If you smoke, do everything you can to stop, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you don’t smoke, don’t ever start.
· Practice moderation. An occasional glass of wine can be good for your heart. However, too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure and other health issues. If you choose to drink, don’t overdo it. Most experts suggest no more than one drink a day for women, two for men.
· Manage your stress. Studies have shown that chronic stress is linked to high blood pressure and other heart problems. Find time each day to relax and unwind. Try taking a yoga class, reading a good book, enjoying a long bath, or carving out 20 minutes for meditation. Stress can make you feel irritable and impatient, and it can damage your physical health, so make an effort to slow down and concentrate only on what really matters.
To learn more about cardiovascular health, contact the Heart Center at Denton Regional Medical Center. Visit us online or call 940-898-0629 for a physician referral. Serving Denton and North Texas, we want to keep your heart healthy.