February is the month of love; not only is Valentine’s Day just around the corner, but it is also Heart Health Month, making this time of year the perfect occasion to be mindful of ways we can keep our hearts — and those of our loved ones — healthy and happy.
Believe it or not, making heart healthy changes doesn’t have to be drastic or complicated. In fact, most of these healthy habits are easy and enjoyable. From heart healthy exercise to recipes that your stomach and heart will enjoy, these tips are a great way to show your heart some love this February and all year round.
Heart Healthy Exercise
Exercise is one of the best ways to show your heart some love. Three types of exercise are beneficial to heart health. While you don’t have to do them all at one time, aerobic exercise, resistance training as well as stretching, flexibility, and balance should all be a part of your fitness routine.
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is the heart-pumping exercise that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity. Aerobic exercise is one of the most beneficial types of exercise for your heart. Walking or jogging are both great ways to get in your cardio as well as unwind after a long day.
Here are a few aerobic exercises ideas:
Resistance training or strength training is equally as beneficial for heart health as aerobic exercise. The American Heart Association recommends resistance training twice per week. This type of exercise includes working out with free weights (hand weights, dumbbells or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands, or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and chin-ups.
Stretching, flexibility and balance are not exercises you usually think of when you want to get your heart pumping; however, it will help with your joints and help you to continue aerobic and resistance training. Stretching, yoga, and Tai Chi help keep your body flexible and ready to continue aerobic and resistance training.
Heart Healthy Foods
Diet plays a significant role in heart health, and eating the right foods gives your heart the fuel it needs. Here are a few of our favorite heart healthy foods.
When it comes to heart-healthy eating, it is always best to choose home-cooked meals over take-out, whole foods over processed foods, and to aim to keep your diet low in sodium. These delicious recipes are filled with good-for-the-heart fresh ingredients and healthy fats that both your heart and stomach will love.
Before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine, please check with your healthcare provider first to determine what type of diet and exercise plan is right for you.