February is American Heart Month. This time of year is a great opportunity for us to focus on the organ that beats around 3 billion times, nonstop, in the average human lifetime. Your heart keeps you alive. It sends life-giving oxygen, nutrients, and natural medicine through your bloodstream to all parts of your body. What have you done for your heart lately? Why not take this month to pay attention to your heart's heath? Here are some tips on how to do it!
Don’t strain your heart. Support it!
We often believe that exercising more and faster is better. Not necessarily true. Recent research has found that lower-intensity exercise (staying just below your target heart rate) is healthier than exercise that's high stress and high intensity. The research found that individuals who overdo it can develop scarring of the heart over time.
Connect with friends and family.
How is being with loved ones good for the heart? Connecting with others helps you keep a positive attitude even in the middle of stressful life challenges. The heart is the seat of your emotions; it's where love, bonding, connection, and intimacy originate. By spending time with others, you have the opportunity to give and receive love, and that's good for the heart too!
Eat more heart-healthy foods.
There are certain foods that are heart protective because they contain omega 3 and other healthy fats, critical vitamins and minerals, and fiber and phytonutrients that help keep heart tissues healthy. Here's a partial list of foods you should eat more of: salmon, ground flaxseed, oatmeal, black or pinto beans, raw almonds, and brown rice. Among the many heart-healthy fresh fruits and vegetables, these are especially beneficial: orange vegetables, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, orange fruits, and blueberries.
Laugh, smile, and play.
Scientists have found evidence for the health benefits of lightheartedness and optimism for healing and fighting off illness. Seeking happiness-producing activities is a good way to relieve stress, enjoy others' company, and feel better. Give it a try this month. It will do your heart good.