February: it’s the month cupid has everyone shuffling, either to find their Valentine the right gift or just to find a Valentine. But what if we shifted our focus from winning over someone’s heart, and instead focused on keeping our own heart healthy?
In honor of Heart Health Month, we encourage everyone to make a healthy heart more of a priority, which can ultimately prevent heart disease, the number one killer of women. In fact, heart disease is such an epidemic, 1 in 3 women dies from heart disease a year. That’s approximately one woman every minute. Specific to Alaska, heart disease and stroke are the second and fourth leading causes of death. In 2014, heart disease took the lives of 19 percent of Alaskans, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. And while there are some factors you can’t control when it comes to heart diseases, such as age, gender, heredity, and race, there are many factors you can control through a healthy diet and exercise.
Manage Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is the silent killer putting you at risk for blood disease and stroke, but it can be controlled. A diet low in salt, saturated fats, cholesterol, and alcohol will reduce your blood pressure. Physical activity and weight loss are also key factors in lowering your numbers.
- Control Cholesterol: High Cholesterol can result in artery-clogging plaque, ultimately leading to heart attack or stroke. However, a little cardio will reduce high cholesterol, coupled with a diet low in cholesterol and sodium.
- Reduce Blood Sugar: The food you eat turns into glucose (blood sugar), but if you have too much in your body, it can lead to severe damage. So stay away from those added sugars and say hello to cardio. (We won’t fault you for indulging in a little chocolate on Valentine’s Day.)
- Manage BMI: Your BMI is your weight-to-height ratio and is a good indicator of whether or not you are overweight and more susceptible to heart disease. To successfully and healthfully lose weight, you need to omit about 500 calories per day from your diet to lose about 1 pound per week.
So fall in love with self-care this Valentine’s Day and get your feet moving toward a healthier heart. The American Heart Association’s website serves as a helpful source for educating yourself more on heart disease and provides more diet and exercise tips that you can use to lower the risk of a heart attack.
If you need a little assistance on your journey to a healthy heart, The Alaska Club offers free fitness consultations that include BMI measurement, and we offer personal trainers who will develop a regimen that’s right for you.
You can also join the thousands of women who will be wearing red on February 3, 2017, for National Wear Red Day, in order to increase heart health awareness and raise funds that will go toward continued research on cardiovascular health. Let’s all give our hearts a little love this February.