From Valentine’s Day to American Heart Month, February is a month that is all about showing your ticker the tender loving care it deserves. February was declared American Heart Month in 1963 after the American Heart Association led a major initiative calling for awareness that could lead to prevention of cardiovascular disease, the “silent killer” that is reported as the leading cause of death in the United States.
It is important for seniors to be especially conscious regarding their heart health, as the likelihood of heart problems increase with age. Heart disease can happen even in very healthy individuals, but factors like smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes all play a role in developing an increased risk of suffering from heart disease.
Even if you don’t possess health issues that might make you more susceptible to heart disease, seniors should always make a concerted effort to make heart healthy decisions and take proactive preventative measures to protect the organ that keeps them alive.
Taking excellent care of your ticker is easier than you think- just make it your goal to follow these simple steps:
-Exercise regularly: A brisk 30-minute walk or low-impact exercise class at least five times a week is recommended. Group exercise is also suggested as a way to create motivation to exercise and to help hold oneself accountable. “Our Walking Club has been an amazing way for our residents to stay active, and have fun socializing and strengthening friendships while doing it,” says Courtney Bartholomew, Executive Director of Schonberg Care community Vista Shores in New Orleans, LA.
-Eat mindfully: A heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables and minimizes cholesterol, saturated fats, sweets, and meat. We all need to indulge every now and again, but working to keep 85% of what you eat as heart-healthy as possible is a do-able goal.
-RELAX: It’s easier said than done, but chronic stress has been proven to have a very negative effect on heart function. Yoga, meditation, and dedicated quiet time have all been hailed to work wonders on stress levels- it may help to explore these options further if you have trouble controlling your stress levels.
-Just say NO to smoking: The dangers of smoking have become widely publicized, and heart health is yet another thing that smoking negatively effects. However, seniors who have smoked since a very young age often still find it very hard to quit. For those who have tried measures like Nicorette gum or patches with little success, electronic cigarettes are a newer, safer alternative to smoking that can help kick the habit.
We hope you will join us in renewing your efforts to show your heart the love it deserves, this month and every month!