February is American Heart Month, and as a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving the nation’s health, the Y offers the following tips to help families in Hampton Roads be heart healthy.
1. Get Physical: Being physically active every day is fun and can improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.
2. Take a Snooze: Lack of sleep can be associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.
3. Shape Up Those Recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.
4. Feeling the Pressure: Per the American Heart Association lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 adults (about 80 million people) has high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor if needed.
5. Play Together: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or build a snow fort together in the yard or the park.
Exercise your heart in more ways than one
Exercise strengthens your heart muscle, improving its ability to pump blood through the body. It lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels, and reduces your risk for coronary heart disease. At the Y, we offer state-of-the-art equipment, personalized fitness programs, and a variety of classes to help you become your best self!
But the Y takes care of your heart in other ways, too. In programs, classes, and family center lobbies, the Y fosters interactions among small groups, inspiring a more connected, supportive community. Active Older Adults find friendship over coffee and on field trips. Adult cancer survivors share the challenges of their journey through the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program. Individuals battling the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease fight alongside each other in the Rock Steady Boxing program. And adults at-risk for developing type 2 diabetes find the courage to trasnform their lives alongside peers facing similar struggles.
If you want to be a part of the movement that helps everyone exercise their heart in more ways than one, contact your local YMCA or make a gift online today. When you give to the Y, the programs mentioned above, and beyond, become accesible to all, regardles of ability for a participant to pay— and you continue to strengthen our community and help to make a better us.