American Heart Month: It's Never too Late to Love Your Heart
Every February, we celebrate American Heart Month. It’s the perfect time to raise awareness for one of the leading causes of death in America. Sadly, over 610,000 people die in the U.S. each year from heart disease - that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Thankfully, it’s never too late to start loving your heart. The more you love your heart, the more it will love you back!
Let’s go over some of the best things that seniors can do to boost their heart health and decrease the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Add Color to Your Plate
The American Heart Association recommends adding color to your diet. You should be getting eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day to reduce the risk of heart disease. Step out of your comfort zone and try a new fruit or vegetable each week.
Examples of palatable options for seniors include:
- Grilled fruits on a skewer
- Sweet potato fries with cinnamon
- Oven-roasted brussel sprouts
- Butternut squash soup
- Salad with nuts and berries
- Fruit-infused smoothies or popsicles
- Hummus with cold cut veggies
A heart-healthy lifestyle includes regular physical activity. Seniors sometimes frown at the idea of exercise because of complications like pain, joint discomfort and lack of mobility. But, there are always ways to incorporate more movement into your days. Before starting an exercise regimen, talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
Some of the best workout options for older adults are:
- Yoga and stretching
- Strength and aerobic classes
- Bodyweight training
- Resistance-band training
Manage Stress Levels
While stress is a normal part of life, we all have different ways of dealing with it. Chronic stress and anxiety are risk factors for coronary artery disease, so it’s important to have ways to manage your stress levels. Many people find comfort in meditating, writing in a journal, exercising or deep breathing. Try these stress-reducing techniques to see what works for you.
It’s also important to build a life that is as low stress as possible, as this will prevent anxiety. Surround yourself with positive people, participate in hobbies and activities and take care of your mind, body and spirit.
Get Enough Rest
People often underestimate the importance of sleep. Unfortunately, a lack of quality sleep can lead to a host of health problems, such as disruptions in your metabolism, blood pressure and inflammation markers. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your doctor about your options. Sleep aids are generally not recommended, so it’s best to develop a healthy sleep routine that includes:
- Avoiding excess caffeine
- Keeping a consistent sleep schedule
- Not going to bed too early
- Making your bedroom quiet and relaxing
- Limiting exposure to bright lights in the evening
- Turning off electronic devices 30 minutes before bed
- Reducing your fluid intake in the evening
The best way to show your support for American Heart Month is by following the advice above. Share this valuable info with your friends and family, as a bit of education goes a long way in protecting our heart health.