Did you know that February is American Heart Month? The Heart Truth and NHLBI celebrate this month by motivating more Americans to make the switch to a healthier lifestyle to prevent heart disease.
Especially now, focusing on your heart health has never been more important because people with poor heart health are at an increased risk for developing a severe illness from a COVID-19 infection.
People are typically more successful at meeting personal goals related to health when they join up with others. Taking care of your heart should be a part of your self-care routine, and American Hearth Month can kick start your motivation in the following ways.
Use the American Heart Month Planning Checklist to Get Motivated
If you’re someone who needs to plan any new regimens to help you stick to it, the American Heart Month Planning Checklist can help get you started on the right foot. This printable file will help you get organized and organize anyone else who wants to improve their heart health with you.
You can start it as early as December to make sure you’re ready for February’s activities, and you can take advantage of the toolkit that the American Heart Associated offers free.
It has social media resources, facts sheets, national wear red day, information cards, animated gifs, PowerPoint slides, and much more. You can use all of these resources to organize your own event locally for National Heart Month.
Get Involved with Seven Days of Self Care
The American Heart Association has a themed week called Seven Days of Self Care, and they encourage people to partake in the set activities to show their support to being heart healthy. Each day has a different theme, including:
You’ll start your week off strong with Self-Care Sunday. During this day, all you have to do is create your self-care checklist to help keep you on track for the week. You can do this on paper, digitally, or both to help you keep your goals in mind and ready to get more heart-healthy.
You can use the planner from the American Heart Association, or you can design your own. Make sure to map out what goals you want to achieve each day. This could be something like setting a step goal or switching to water from traditional soda or sugar-heavy beverages.
Monday’s theme is mindfulness, and it focuses on learning your blood pressure numbers and heart stats. It’s important to know what a healthy blood pressure range is and what is too high. You’ll want to know your systolic and diastolic numbers.
The systolic numbers are the top numbers on the blood pressure readout, with the diastolic numbers being on the bottom, and a healthy range is 120 over 80.
Anything over 130 for the systolic number is considered to be high, and your risk of a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke increases as your blood pressure goes up.
Tuesday is all about heart-healthy food, and the American Heart Association encourages you to try out a healthy recipe. This can involve shopping beforehand if you’re not sure what heart-healthy foods are, but you can easily get enough ingredients for a few meals.
Add a salad with leafy green vegetables like kale or spinach, berries, whole grains, avocados, fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, dark chocolate, and beans are all good for your heart in moderation. Cut back on the processed foods, sugars, and foods that are high in fat because they can be detrimental to your heart health.
Wellness Wednesday is all about hitting your fitness goals and getting up and moving. You can easily give your entire system a workout with a brisk walk if you’re not used to exercising. Biking, swimming, or going for a jog can also help get your blood flowing.
The Mayo Clinic recommends you get at least 10,000 steps a day while adding an additional thousand a day every two weeks. If you’re already active, you may want to increase this number if you want to lose weight. Activity trackers can monitor your steps and your heart statistics.
Treat Yourself Thursday
Thursday is the day set aside for run and relaxation. What do you like to do to unwind? Maybe you like to read a book, or you have a hobby you don’t usually have time to indulge in. If so, this Thursday is a great day to carve out time.
Take a few hours to treat yourself, and make sure you do something that lets you unwind and relax. Constant stress isn’t good for your heart health, so you should always take time to just unwind. This can help you manage your stress levels better, and it could even cause your blood pressure to drop toward normal levels.
Who inspires you to do better or take care of yourself? It could bed a family member, friend, or healthcare worker who has pushed you to be better. Whoever it may be, take a few minutes to share who inspires you on your favorite social media platform, and tag it with the #OurHearts hashtag to link to the American Heart Association’s Heart Awareness campaign.
You can finish off the week by celebrating your accomplishments and posting a selfie. Tag it with the American Heart Association’s #OurHearts campaign tag and write about your favorite way to take care of your own heart. You can also read other people’s stories for inspiration, get tips or advice, and develop a whole new support network.
Take the American Heart Association’s Heart Health Challenge
This February, start a new routine to help improve your heart health that will carry through the entire year. Get involved with your local community, find a support network to help you push through, and enjoy living a healthier lifestyle. Your heart will thank you.