10 heart-healthy habits
February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The good news is that it is also one of the most preventable. Being physically active, making healthier food choices, not smoking, getting plenty of sleep, and finding healthy ways to reduce stress can help prevent heart disease.
Take care of your heart with these 10 heart-healthy habits:
1. Don’t smoke or use tobacco
2. Maintain a normal BMI (Body Mass Index). Calculate your BMI.
The BMI scale for adults is:
- Under 18: Underweight
- 18-25: Normal
- >25-30: Overweight
- >30-40: Obese
- Above 40: Morbidly obese
3. Limit alcohol intake. Women should limit alcohol to 1 or fewer drinks per day. Men, 2 or fewer drinks per day
4. Aim for an average of 7 hours or more of sleep per night
5. Get regular health check-ups
6. Decrease your salt intake: Aim for a maximum of 3 grams per day and choose fresh foods and limit processed foods, like frozen meals, canned foods, and packaged products
7. Practice relaxation exercises such as meditation, yoga, and walking in nature
8. Get plenty of exercise/physical activity: The best exercise is one you can do often, like a brisk walk, hike, swim, or gardening
9. Limit sitting time at the computer or TV
10. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Also be sure to visit your primary care provider regularly for check ups and preventive care, to monitor your cardiovascular health, and catch signs of a problem as early as possible.