February 6, 2013

Celebrate Healthy Heart Month In February

You see it etched out on cards. You nibble on a piece of it dipped in chocolate. With Valentine’s Day coming up, the image of a heart can be seen almost everywhere, including merchandise and food. While February is known for cupid and love, it’s also a month that raises awareness on healthy heart living.

To begin, one of the ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to set a list of healthy goals and to work toward achieving those goals. When creating goals, it’s important to make a goal that is achievable through small lifestyle changes. For example, if more exercise is a goal, start by walking a few minutes every day and build up small increments of exercise time.

“Think of the good choices you can make today. A good place to start is by understanding where you are currently in terms of health,” commented Dr. John Foreyt, a Bayor College of Medicine professor of medicine on atherosclerosis and vascular medicine, in a prepared statement. “Talking with your doctor is important to find out what goals you should be setting, is it losing weight, or lowering your cholesterol or blood pressure?”

Besides setting goals, another helpful tip is to keep a food diary to write down what foods are consumed on a daily basis. At the end of the week, it’s helpful to look over the diary to review any trends or habits as well as understand the number of calories that were consumed in a day or a week. For those who are more tech savvy, there are apps and websites that can also track daily food consumption.

“Once you know where you stand in terms of health, you can start slowly,” noted Foreyt in the statement. “Focus on what you can do today to get on the right track and reach your goals.”

In regards to food, Foreyt advises individuals to remember to eat breakfast on a daily basis as those who eat during the mornings have a better likelihood of making healthier food choices throughout the day. This includes cutting down portion sizes, which can be especially useful when dining out at restaurant. These little things will all add up and help boost a healthy heart.

“Small changes are less overwhelming,” Foreyt said in the statement. “Another good tip is to remember that every day is a new day and a new opportunity to make good choices.”

Apart from celebrating American Heart Month with positive lifestyle change, it’s also important to take part in raising awareness about healthy heart living. For example, the American Heart Association launched Go Red for Women, celebrated the 10th National Wear Red Day on Feb.1 with an outpouring support on social media websites, a video vignette with stylist Clinton Kelley on stylish red looks, and a public service announcement by actress Allison Janney. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has also joined in, promoting a new Spanish language campaign (Haga La Llamada, No Pierda Tiempo/Hurry Make the Call, Don’t Lose Time) that encourages Spanish-speaking women to contact 911 if sisters, mothers, or friends suffer any symptom related to a heart attack. These are all outlets in which education on healthy heart living can be promoted to friends and family.

“February is not just a time when many people fondly think of those close to their heart. It is also a time to take care of your heart,” wrote HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement on American Heart Month.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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