February is American Heart Month. That can mean a few things. From a nurse or medical perspective, that can mean keeping the physical heart healthy. After all, cardiovascular disease (CVD) – a disease that affects the heart including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure – is the number one killer of women and men in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. It’s also the leading cause of disability preventing Americans from working and being active.
On the other hand, American Heart Month can also signify the emotions of the heart especially around the 14th of February when you celebrate those special people in your life. Show your your family — and yourself — some love this month. Learn about your risk for heart disease to stay “heart healthy.”
Be aware of these risk factors to stay safe:
- Physical activity
- Tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Exercise is one of the easiest ways to fight back against most CVD risk factors even in older adults. There are few main types of exercise and each is different. To get the most benefits, try doing something within each type:
Endurance or aerobic. These activities increase your heart rate and speed up your breathing. Dancing, swimming, biking or speed walking are all examples of endurance activities.
Strength. Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. Try lifting weights or using a resistance band to build strength.
Balance. These exercises are great for preventing falls. A lot of yoga poses or chair exercises can build up your balance.
Flexibility. In order to stay limber, your muscles need to be stretched. Basic stretching of the neck, back, legs and arms will increase your flexibility.
Together, we can fight and manage heart disease.
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