Mind Body

Heart to heart

Heart to heart | Augusta Health Matters

Celebrate Heart Health Month this February with healthy foods and activities

After a couple months of hibernating from the winter cold, you may be ready to start moving again, which makes it a good time to think about your heart health. While staying in good cardiovascular shape isn’t always easy, the steps you can take to improve your heart health are simple.

Get going

One of the most important things you can do for a healthier heart is to be active. The American Heart Association recommends doing at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. If that is a bit ambitious to start, just embarking on some activity will make a difference. Start by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing simple exercises like push-ups or jumping jacks while you watch TV.

Staying active can also help you lose weight, which is another key way to improve your cardiovascular health. Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, as well as other factors that contribute to poor heart health, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Pay attention to your plate

Eating healthy is a large component of living a heart-healthy lifestyle. A heart-friendly diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables; whole-grain breads and other carbohydrates; lean meats, chicken or fish; and limited sodium. Craving a slice of cheesy pizza or a sugary soda? We all have our weaknesses. Just be sure to enjoy these high-calorie foods in moderation.

In addition to providing your body with the basic nutrients it needs to fight disease and work properly, eating healthy also helps protect against other issues that may affect your heart health, including diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain and high cholesterol.

If you’re interested in eating healthier and seeing these health improvements in yourself, consider starting a food diary. Not only will it help you keep track of how much fat or sodium you’re eating, it will also help you identify patterns and bad habits that you can focus on fixing.