Hearts Day, Heart Month

February is the time to care for your heart – in love and health!

Today many of us are celebrating Valentine’s Day with our loved ones by sharing pictures of hearts and heart-shaped boxes of goodies. While we’re thinking about hearts and love, February is also the time to give your own heart some love because February is nationally-designated as American Heart Month.

Mom and daughter kicking a soccer ball in the woods

All month long, organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will be sharing information on preventing heart disease. Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD) are umbrella terms, meaning there is not just one disease of the heart. The most common heart disease in America is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) according to the CDC. By practicing healthy habits, you can reduce your odds of developing heart disease. While many factors play into the risk of heart disease, there are seven main risk factors that may increase your risk. Some factors are out of our control, like age and family history/genetic predisposition. But many risk factors can be controlled: high blood pressure, high blood lipids (cholesterol), smoking, blood sugar levels, and even the circumference of your waist.

Graph showing heart disease risk among different populations.

Remember our blog post about small habits? Studies have shown that replacing 1 hour of sitting time throughout the day with 1 hour of light to moderate physical activity had a 42% mortality reduction for thousands of people. This means if you normally sit a lot throughout the day and start small by standing for one extra hour throughout the day your risk for heart disease will be reduced significantly. Starting small such as sitting less or moving more in a light way (think briskly walking a lap around your office or home) has health benefits such as a reduction in blood glucose levels (blood sugar).          

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Regular physical activity and exercise will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, dementia, and many cancers. On average, half of Americans meet the physical activity guidelines. The most common form of physical activity is walking, but there are so many options for different abilities, fitness levels, skills, and interests. For more information on heart disease, prevention and more check out the AHA’s website.