Ah…the month of love! Between the lunar new year and Valentine’s Day, who doesn’t love February? It’s such a great mid-way point through winter (half way there!) with vibrant reds bursting everywhere to remind us that love is in the air. One of the best parts of this month is the emphasis on what’s really important….family, friends, loved ones. It’s the time of year when even our children are keenly aware of the importance of these relationships, as they celebrate the season decorating cards with positive messages and exchanging them with friends. This is the stuff childhood is made of!
February is also Heart Awareness Month, a perfect time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and to helping your family make the diet and activity changes needed for a lifetime of heart health. Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women? It is responsible for 1 out of every 4 deaths. If you or someone you love has or is at risk for heart disease, encourage them to make everyday small changes so they’ll have a happy, healthy long life.
Do you know how “old” your heart is? If we don’t take care of ourselves, our hearts can age faster than we do. Have your family members take this quick survey to see how you fare: http://www.heartage.me/
Here are some things you can do to help ensure your family’s hearts are beating strong now and for a long time to come:
– Visit your doctor every year – get your blood pressure checked for every family member over 18 years old and ask questions about how to be more heart-healthy.
– Increase heart-healthy foods – cook meals at home and substitute fresh or dried herbs for salt (low sodium is important for heart health!). Salt is a common preservative that helps processed foods stay safe to eat for long periods of time.
– Eat as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as possible – start each meal with something healthy, it’s easier to feed little mouths veggies when their tummies are hungry.
– Make physical activity part of your child’s day – if it’s currently not something your child does every day at school through recess or PE or some other organized activity, talk to your school administrator. Being active daily (even if only 15 minutes!) is important for a healthy heart.
– Add exercise to your family’s routine – whether it’s walking the dog or going for a family bike ride, get the whole crew out and being active together. If you are an adventurous family, try mountain biking or a mud run to liven things up a bit!
For more detailed info on understanding your heart health and how you can take steps to improve it, check out this great article.
Hope your month is heart-healthy!