American Heart Month: Be Heart Smart in February

30 January 2024
American Hearth Month with a woman taking her blood pressure

February is American Heart Month and with research indicating blood pressure control has worsened in both men and women since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this awareness month serves as a reminder to get a blood pressure screening and focus on becoming heart healthy. YMCA wellness coaches encourage the following tips to become heart-healthy this February.

1. Get Moving: Being physically active every day is not only fun; it can also 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 or head over to the Y and check out our top-notch cardio equipment and motivational support.

2. Rest up: 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 to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.

3. Revamp your Recipes: Makeover your 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, and choose foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.

4. Check your Pressure: Revised blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association mean that nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure. Lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with your doctor if needed.

5. Quality Time: Spending time together with family or friends is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or find a class at the Y that you love and get your heart pumping! Visit Calendar and Reservations to check out our offerings.