3 heart-healthy habits
Even small changes matter - and can add up over time
Here are some heart health strategies to focus on during February for heart month - and to continue all year long.
1. Make a heart-healthy grocery list.
It’s easier to make better choices when you have heart-healthy ingredients on hand — and a plan to use them.
What should make your list? Focus on wholesome veggies, fruits and fiber-rich whole grains. Other good choices include low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and unsalted nuts and seeds.
Tip: Look for what’s healthy and on sale to get good stuff for less.
At the same time: Cut back on foods that are high in sodium, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fats.
2. Take mini workout breaks.
Put these short bursts of activity on your calendar — or set a reminder on your smartphone. Then treat them like you would any other important appointment.1
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Starting with these mini sessions can help you develop greater stamina and confidence.
3. Tame tension with your breath.
Excess stress and anxiety affects well-being, including heart health. For one thing, it may trigger unhealthy coping strategies — that can raise blood pressure — such as overeating, problem drinking and smoking.
Particularly stressful events, especially those that involve anger, are linked to heart attacks.2
The next time you feel stress or anger building, give yourself a quick timeout. Take a few calming breaths. Deep, slow breathing may help soothe your mind and body.
What to do next
Learn more everyday ways to protect your heart. Download this free booklet to discover:
- More ideas of what to stock in a heart-smart kitchen.
- 3 solutions for stress.
- Questions to ask your doctor about high blood pressure, cholesterol and more.
- How to spot heart attack warning signs.
- Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
American Heart Association; American Psychological Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute